GMG Classical Music Forum

The Music Room => General Classical Music Discussion => Topic started by: some guy on May 30, 2019, 10:22:57 AM

Title: Notes in music?
Post by: some guy on May 30, 2019, 10:22:57 AM
Music takes different people differently. How true that is. But one thing seems pretty standard here at GMG (and almost everywhere else, for that matter), and that is that music has emotional content. Without getting into the merits of that view, though if that happens it happens, I'm more interested in the moment in finding out if anyone at GMG listens to music itself, without having to turn it into something else. Sure, music sets all sorts of different feelings and ideas going in all sorts of listeners, but that power must surely go without saying. What it seems to have no power to do is convince anyone that it's good and fine and strong just being its own sweet self, not causing emotional reactions, not expressing emotional states, not telling complicated little stories, just sounding.

Anyway, the people who have responded to relm1's despair thread, needn't respond to this one. I already know who you are. What I'm interested in is whether there are people who just like listening to music qua music. People for whom music itself is so powerful, so sufficient, that there's never any need on their part to turn it into other things that aren't music before it becomes pleasing or understandable.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ghost of Baron Scarpia on May 30, 2019, 10:42:09 AM
Depends on the music. More often than not I listen to music as an abstract art form, and derive pleasure from the absolute beauty if it, which may involve appreciating a melody, the skill of the composer in interweaving independent voices into a contrapuntal fabric, transforming and combining musical themes in different ways, creating beautiful harmonies. Other times I find it interesting to imagine different emotional scenarios that are implied by the music.

Abstraction aside, it is a biological fact that sounds (including non-musical sounds) induce emotional reactions in the human mind, so there is a basis for connecting music to emotion. But that does not mean we are bound by that. For what it's worth, I don't think it can be claimed with any basis that music communicates emotion. It evokes emotion. The emotion evoked is not necessarily the emotion that the composer intended to evoke.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Mandryka on May 30, 2019, 08:43:08 PM

I don’t always listen to music for expressiveness, indeed very frequently any emotion expressed is ineffable and so probably an illusion, I often may be reflecting on extra musical considerations (style, intertextual relations, function, purpose, reception . .  .)
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: (: premont :) on May 31, 2019, 01:29:30 AM
Well. yes. Sometimes I listen to music in an analytical mood, concentrating on technical matters, and at other times I do subnerge into the music and try to be receptive to the affect (some call this emotion) I think the composer or rather the musician(s) intend(s) to express. These two ways to some extent exclude each other within one given listening.The first way of listening is governed by musicological interest, but it is the second way of listening I find the most spiritually enriching and for that reason the most interesting in the long run. I think many listeners listen in these same two ways.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: amw on May 31, 2019, 06:34:57 AM
Taking pleasure in a piece of music because it sounds beautiful is absolutely an emotional and sensual reaction, in the same way as taking pleasure in a piece of music because it makes you feel a certain way. One isn't in any way more "pure" than the other. Music is a sensual art and it's always going to stimulate our senses in some way, and that includes our emotional and intellectual senses, which are intimately tied to & draw their cues from the body itself. As such I reject the question.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ghost of Baron Scarpia on May 31, 2019, 07:48:13 AM
Taking pleasure in a piece of music because it sounds beautiful is absolutely an emotional and sensual reaction, in the same way as taking pleasure in a piece of music because it makes you feel a certain way. One isn't in any way more "pure" than the other. Music is a sensual art and it's always going to stimulate our senses in some way, and that includes our emotional and intellectual senses, which are intimately tied to & draw their cues from the body itself. As such I reject the question.

I agree that even appreciation of "absolute" music has an emotional and sensual component. That does not mean there is no distinction to be made between music that makes explicit reference to a non-musical program and music which does not, or between listening for an external program and listening for "technical" characteristics of music. There is no clear demarcation line, but distinctions useful in life are rarely clear cut.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Brian on May 31, 2019, 09:01:31 AM
I didn't interpret the original question as being about programmatic vs. abstract music, so much as, "Do you have the ability to listen to the Brahms Fourth Symphony* analytically, for the notes and their relations and Brahms' craftmanship, without also feeling some kind of personal reaction to those notes?"

*just happens to be what I'm listening to

What I reject is the assumption here:

People for whom music itself is so powerful, so sufficient, that there's never any need on their part to turn it into other things that aren't music before it becomes pleasing or understandable.

The assumption here is that having a reaction to music is a deliberate act. I don't, like, turn on the emotion button when I listen to Tchaikovsky's Pathétique, or listen to Lennon's "Across the Universe" with the dictum You Must Think About Your Ex-Girlfriend. That just happens. That's the brain doing its thing.

So I guess my answer to some guy is: music is so powerful, so sufficient, that it can bring out lots of extramusical stuff in different listeners. Do I ever actively fight those reactions to Only Hear The Notes? Honestly, very rarely.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ghost of Baron Scarpia on May 31, 2019, 09:06:18 AM
What I reject is the assumption here:

The assumption here is that having a reaction to music is a deliberate act. I don't, like, turn on the emotion button when I listen to Tchaikovsky's Pathétique, or listen to Lennon's "Across the Universe" with the dictum You Must Think About Your Ex-Girlfriend. That just happens. That's the brain doing its thing.

So I guess my answer to some guy is: music is so powerful, so sufficient, that it can bring out lots of extramusical stuff in different listeners. Do I ever actively fight those reactions to Only Hear The Notes? Honestly, very rarely.

In my case, I can make a decision to think about extra-musical associations. One little mental game I play is to think of a piece of music as a sort of character study, to think of it as having a personality. I can listen to contrapuntus 8 from Bach's Art of the Fugue and admire the melodic and contrapuntal genius, or I can ruminate on the "personality" it manifests. Sometimes I feel like listening one way, sometimes another.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: some guy on June 01, 2019, 12:56:12 AM
Just to clear up a couple of things. There is nothing in the OP about analysis. There is nothing in the OP to suggest that listening to music is anything but sensual. The distinction in the OP is between listeners who use music to accomplish other, non-musical, aims and listeners who let the music simply be itself, a distinction made largely if not solely in order to see if there is anyone here who falls into the latter camp.

The assumption here--"People for whom music itself is so powerful, so sufficient, that there's never any need on their part to turn it into other things that aren't music before it becomes pleasing or understandable"--is most definitely not that reacting to music is a deliberate act. I think that listening to music can indeed be deliberate, but that's not what I was saying in the sentence Brian quoted. My claim there is that music is a thing, itself, with its own characteristics and that it doesn't need to be turned into something else (turning it into something else seems much more like a deliberate act, to me) in order to have value or to be enjoyed.

Maybe a little analogy would be appropriate here. Take a tree. A tree is a thing. It doesn't have to be turned into something that's not a tree in order to be appreciated. It can also be used to make other things, things that aren't trees, and what I see most often in conversations about music is the idea that trees only have value if they are turned into chairs or houses.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 01, 2019, 02:43:47 AM
I'm sure you've asked this absurd question before.

If you try to listen to "music" without any emotional content, you are simply listening to a series of noises. You might as well sit somewhere and make a list of the sounds that you're hearing. Currently, I can hear the clacking of my fingers on my computer keyboard, the hum of my computer's fan, the more distant hum of my heating system. Also the tinnitus I've had for nearly 30 years now. And some of my own breathing now that I think of it.

If I listened to music in that fashion, then I might as well not bother. I have sufficient environmental noise in my life already.

You might as well ask whether people regard the Mona Lisa as a piece of paint much the same as they regard the paint on their kitchen ceiling, utterly disregarding the difference in the paint's function. Or whether they treat a novel as a series of squiggles on a page rather than something that involves letters and words and sentences that were decided upon in order to communicate meaning. You're attempting to ask people to ignore the entire PURPOSE of planning, which is to create an effect and therefore to elicit a reaction. Even if that reaction is primarily "wow, this is so cunningly constructed", that's still a reaction.

You are, in short, asking people whether they ever listen to music while completely missing the point of doing so. Because the notes in music have no other function if you insist of stripping them of the purpose of causing a reaction in listeners.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Mandryka on June 01, 2019, 03:18:55 AM
I don’t know how relevant this is.

I’m not very interested in music. I am interested in interpretation. So my focus is never really on “letting the music speak”, it’s on understanding what these singers and instrumentalists are doing and trying to form a hypothesis about  why.

Indeed I don’t really know how anyone could let the music speak, apart maybe (and that’s a big maybe) from reading the score. I suspect, though I’ve not thought about this much so I’m happy to be shown to be wrong, that people who say “I let the music speak for itself” are either not listening or deluding themselves.

You may be able to “let the interpretation speak”, though to me it seems imbalanced, and it would be a sort of anti-intellectual inverted snobbery to think this is a good way to treat music, as if people are ashamed of their intellectual side and want to stuff it in the closet, or not feel substandard if they’re not up to much from an intellectual point of view.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: amw on June 01, 2019, 03:48:05 AM
The distinction in the OP is between listeners who use music to accomplish other, non-musical, aims and listeners who let the music simply be itself
There is no such thing as "the music itself" because music is not an autonomous object the way a tree is; music is a social relationship between performer and listener (who may be the same person). Music by its very nature "accomplishes non-musical aims" such as providing various forms of pleasure to a listener, physical exercise for a performer, and the possibility for intellectual stimulation of some kind. The idea of pieces of music, or works of art more generally, as noumena, hypothetically existing in some pure state unaffected by any of the messiness of human perception, is nonsense. People create and listen to music for entertainment specifically, and social/cultural connection more generally, it's not something that hangs in the aether waiting for a talented genius to peel back the fabric of the universe to reveal, and which can only truly be detected by those who abandon such crass emotional responses as "wow, this sounds really pretty". Nice idea though, I'll have some DMT if you're selling.

(edit: ok I'll note that I occasionally say things like "XXX's interpretation of the Ferneyhough Symphony in F major is ok but the music calls out for more urgency and faster tempi" but that's just a more objective-appearing way of saying "I would prefer if the music, etc")
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: (: premont :) on June 01, 2019, 04:05:13 AM

Indeed I don’t really know how anyone could let the music speak, apart maybe (and that’s a big maybe) from reading the score. I suspect, though I’ve not thought about this much so I’m happy to be shown to be wrong, that people who say “I let the music speak for itself” are either not listening or deluding themselves.


Even score reading inevitably includes the readers individual interpretation, at least if he reads the score to let the music speak (or sound) in his inner ear - in contrast to the more neutral musicological motivated score reading, which on the other hand doesn't result in music as such.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Mandryka on June 01, 2019, 04:09:30 AM
Even score reading inevitably includes the readers individual interpretation, at least if he reads the score to let the music speak (or sound) in his inner ear - in contrast to the more neutral musicological motivated score reading, which on the other hand doesn't result in music as such.

Yes I think that's right.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 01, 2019, 04:28:48 AM
The idea of pieces of music, or works of art more generally, as noumena, hypothetically existing in some pure state unaffected by any of the messiness of human perception, is nonsense.

This. The attempted comparison between music and trees falls down utterly because people don't create trees. People can plant trees, and trim and shape them, but this a totally different category from bringing music into being.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: San Antone on June 01, 2019, 04:29:23 AM
Quote
I’m not very interested in music. I am interested in interpretation. So my focus is never really on “letting the music speak”, it’s on understanding what these singers and instrumentalists are doing and trying to form a hypothesis about  why.

It seems we are polar opposites.  I listen exclusively to the work; almost any performance will do. I couldn't care less why the performers choose to play it a certain way - as long as they are competent musicians - I enjoy experiencing the composition.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 01, 2019, 04:47:44 AM
I'm sure you've asked this absurd question before.

If you try to listen to "music" without any emotional content, you are simply listening to a series of noises. You might as well sit somewhere and make a list of the sounds that you're hearing. Currently, I can hear the clacking of my fingers on my computer keyboard, the hum of my computer's fan, the more distant hum of my heating system. Also the tinnitus I've had for nearly 30 years now. And some of my own breathing now that I think of it.

If I listened to music in that fashion, then I might as well not bother. I have sufficient environmental noise in my life already.

You might as well ask whether people regard the Mona Lisa as a piece of paint much the same as they regard the paint on their kitchen ceiling, utterly disregarding the difference in the paint's function. Or whether they treat a novel as a series of squiggles on a page rather than something that involves letters and words and sentences that were decided upon in order to communicate meaning. You're attempting to ask people to ignore the entire PURPOSE of planning, which is to create an effect and therefore to elicit a reaction. Even if that reaction is primarily "wow, this is so cunningly constructed", that's still a reaction.

You are, in short, asking people whether they ever listen to music while completely missing the point of doing so. Because the notes in music have no other function if you insist of stripping them of the purpose of causing a reaction in listeners.

+ 1 to all of the above, particularly the highlighted point.

There is no such thing as "the music itself" because music is not an autonomous object the way a tree is; music is a social relationship between performer and listener (who may be the same person). Music by its very nature "accomplishes non-musical aims" such as providing various forms of pleasure to a listener, physical exercise for a performer, and the possibility for intellectual stimulation of some kind. The idea of pieces of music, or works of art more generally, as noumena, hypothetically existing in some pure state unaffected by any of the messiness of human perception, is nonsense. People create and listen to music for entertainment specifically, and social/cultural connection more generally, it's not something that hangs in the aether waiting for a talented genius to peel back the fabric of the universe to reveal, and which can only truly be detected by those who abandon such crass emotional responses as "wow, this sounds really pretty". Nice idea though, I'll have some DMT if you're selling.

(edit: ok I'll note that I occasionally say things like "XXX's interpretation of the Ferneyhough Symphony in F major is ok but the music calls out for more urgency and faster tempi" but that's just a more objective-appearing way of saying "I would prefer if the music, etc")

Ditto.

I listen exclusively to the work; almost any performance will do. I couldn't care less why the performers choose to play it a certain way - as long as they are competent musicians - I enjoy experiencing the composition.

Ditto.

Amen, sister and brothers, amen!

Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 01, 2019, 04:53:17 AM
This. The attempted comparison between music and trees falls down utterly because people don't create trees. People can plant trees, and trim and shape them, but this a totally different category from bringing music into being.

Of course. Besides, the OP keeps harping on "turning music into something that's not music" but he never ever specifies what this "something" is. What is the equivalent of "chairs and houses" in the case of "music as tree" analogy, I wonder?
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: (: premont :) on June 01, 2019, 05:22:54 AM
I listen exclusively to the work; almost any performance will do. I couldn't care less why the performers choose to play it a certain way - as long as they are competent musicians - I enjoy experiencing the composition.

The composition is represented by the score, but it does not become music until it is performed, and every performance includes interpretation of the score. For that reason you are not listening to the composition, but to some performers interpretation of it. Think of the fact that two performers interpretation of the same score may differ so much as to sound like two different pieces of music. I guess this is the reason why Mandryka writes, that he is interested in performance, because this is what music essentially is.

An old subject of debate, which I thought was dead since long.  :)
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Mandryka on June 01, 2019, 05:25:57 AM
I guess this is the reason why Mandryka writes, that he is interested in performance, because this is what music essentially is.



Yes that, and just as a matter of contingent fact I find this intersection between score and performer, and performance and listener, a fascinating one.

Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 01, 2019, 05:30:17 AM
The composition is represented by the score, but it does not become music until it is performed, and every performance includes interpretation of the score. For that reason you are not listening to the composition, but to some performers interpretation of it. Think of the fact that two performers interpretation of the same score may differ so much as to sound like two different pieces of music. I guess this is the reason why Mandryka writes, that he is interested in performance, because this is what music essentially is.

+1 to this as well, which were in no contradiction with what San Antone wrote if only he'd change  " I enjoy experiencing the composition" to  "I enjoy experiencing what I hear."

No, really, this a crucial point (thanks premont for formulating it in such a concise and precise manner): virtually all the music we hear is essentially performance / interpretation. The notion of "music in itself" is nonsensical, both conceptually and practically.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Mirror Image on June 01, 2019, 05:46:24 AM
+1 to this as well, which were in no contradiction with what San Antone wrote if only he'd change  " I enjoy experiencing the composition" to  "I enjoy experiencing what I hear."

No, really, this a crucial point (thanks premont for formulating it in such a concise and precise manner): virtually all the music we hear is essentially performance / interpretation. The notion of "music in itself" is nonsensical, both conceptually and practically.

Yes, I agree with your point and Premont’s. Music doesn’t come alive until it is performed, but then it’s an interpretation of what’s written. There’s no such thing as playing the music exactly as it’s written, because of the injection of emotional response from the performer(s).
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 01, 2019, 07:33:27 AM
There’s no such thing as playing the music exactly as it’s written

Exactly. Despite often made claims, not even a computer program / robot would be able to do it; let's take Mendelssohn's 1st Piano Trio movements:

    Molto allegro ed agitato (D minor)
    Andante con moto tranquillo (B-flat major)
    Scherzo: Leggiero e vivace (D major)
    Finale: Allegro assai appassionato (D minor, ending in D major)

Let's assume for the sake of discussion that one can univocally program "allegro", "andante" and "vivace" --- yet I defy even the most skilful programmer / robot manufacturer to make them play univocally "agitato", "tranquillo", "leggiero" and "assai appassionato".

"The music exactly as it'd written" is an unattainable, utopian goal --- and as with all utopian projects I'm not even sure that it is desirable.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: aukhawk on June 01, 2019, 07:57:44 AM
What about repeated playback of a recording of totally improvised music?
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 01, 2019, 08:12:50 AM
totally improvised music

This is THE most exact opposite of "music as it's written".  :laugh:
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: San Antone on June 01, 2019, 08:40:15 AM
The composition is represented by the score, but it does not become music until it is performed, and every performance includes interpretation of the score. For that reason you are not listening to the composition, but to some performers interpretation of it. Think of the fact that two performers interpretation of the same score may differ so much as to sound like two different pieces of music. I guess this is the reason why Mandryka writes, that he is interested in performance, because this is what music essentially is.

An old subject of debate, which I thought was dead since long.  :)

Well, yes, of course.  But the work will be there no matter who is performing it. 

What I meant to say is that the differences in interpretation from one recording to another are not important to me.  If a musician presents a recording of a Beethoven sonata in a passable manner, I can enjoy the music Beethoven wrote, and will enjoy it only marginally more when played by one of the pianists often lauded as "the best".  In fact, even recordings which have come under blistering critical notice have been some I've enjoyed. 

I guess I am just not that interested in the nuances of interpretation. 

There are things which I do not like, e.g. singing sacred music from the Medieval period with instruments other than organ and high female voices.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: aukhawk on June 01, 2019, 08:51:01 AM
The philosophical point that:

The composition is represented by the score, but it does not become music until it is performed, and every performance includes interpretation of the score. For that reason you are not listening to the composition, but to some performers interpretation of it.

seems to me to disregard the existence of recordings altogether.  Perhaps you can replace "score" with "record" and "performance" with "replayed" and it makes a bit more sense in my real world as a non-concert-goer.  In that sense perhaps the music does always exist (like a tree) once the score has been performed and recorded and marketed.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 01, 2019, 08:54:48 AM
If a musician presents a Beethoven sonata in a passable manner, I can enjoy the music Beethoven wrote, and will enjoy it only marginally more when played by a master pianist.  In fact, even recordings which have come under blistering critical notice have been some I've enjoyed. 

i'm with you all the way, with two caveats:

(1) "passable manner" is only "passable" to me or to you --- it might very well be "execrable" to many, even most, others,

and

(2) what you or I enjoy is not "the music Beethoven wrote" but "the music Beethoven wrote, as interpreted / performed by X". I am absolutely convinced that not even Beethoven himself as a performer played exactly the music Beethoven wrote as a composer.

Quote
I guess I am just not that attentive or sensitive to the nuances of interpretation, unless there is some glaring choice made by the performer.

Unless by "glaring choice" you mean playing "grave" instead of "presto", or "piano pianissimo" instead of "forte fortissimo", I'm also with you all the way.

Long live (artistic) anarchy! Long live (interpretative) freedom! Die Gedanken sind frei!
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: San Antone on June 01, 2019, 09:05:41 AM
i'm with you all the way, with two caveats:

(1) "passable manner" is only "passable" to me or to you --- it might very well be "execrable" to many, even most, others,

Okay, but I am not concerned with other listeners' reactions.  Also, all of my comments are regarding the large amount of Classical music that I do not know well.  For works that I am very familiar, and love, certain choices will bother me more than for that ocean of works which I have only a superficial exposure.

I like Schumann piano trios, and have streamed any and all I can find. I have never found one unenjoyable, and I couldn't even tell you the one I liked better or best.  I just don't listen that way.

Quote
and

(2) what you or I enjoy is not "the music Beethoven wrote" but "the music Beethoven wrote, as interpreted / performed by X". I am absolutely convinced that not even Beethoven himself as a performer played exactly the music Beethoven wrote as a composer.

That kind of splitting of hairs is irrelevant to me. Of course it is a performance by a specific musician.  I don't maintain an idea about the sonata in the abstract, or some ideal way the music is supposed to sound.  Generally, how ever it is realized by almost any performer will do.  I have been to many student recitals that did not detract at all from my enjoyment of Bach or Beethoven or other composers that were played.

Quote
Unless by "glaring choice" you mean playing "grave" instead of "presto", or "piano pianissimo" instead of "forte fortissimo", I'm also with you all the way.

It usually would be some kind of thing that is an exaggeration of the intention, Glenn Gould's Mozart comes to mind.  But, really it is very rarely that I actually dislike a recording.

Now, for a work I love, and know well, e.g. Durufle Requiem, I am picky about the singing/soloists - but this is a sound quality not linked entirely to interpretation.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: (: premont :) on June 01, 2019, 09:22:44 AM
 

What I meant to say is that the differences in interpretation from one recording to another are not important to me.  If a musician presents a recording of a Beethoven sonata in a passable manner, I can enjoy the music Beethoven wrote, and will enjoy it only marginally more when played by one of the pianists often lauded as "the best".  In fact, even recordings which have come under blistering critical notice have been some I've enjoyed.
 

Florestan's post below point 2) is precisely what I would have answered to your post here. I agree completely with him.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: (: premont :) on June 01, 2019, 09:30:25 AM
The philosophical point that:

seems to me to disregard the existence of recordings altogether.  Perhaps you can replace "score" with "record" and "performance" with "replayed" and it makes a bit more sense in my real world as a non-concert-goer.  In that sense perhaps the music does always exist (like a tree) once the score has been performed and recorded and marketed.

Recordings produce of course music when they are played, but no matter how many times they are played, they represent only individual performers interpretation of a score, not the score itself, and in this respect they do not differ radically from live performances.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 01, 2019, 09:36:04 AM
Okay,

Excellent.

Quote
but I am not concerned with other listeners' reactions.

Generally speaking, neither am I --- but if another listener's reaction is very different, even opposite, to mine, then there's room for thought --- I remember Brian and I having very different, if not opposite, reaction to a Sibelius symphony 9can't remember which one).


Quote
Also, all of my comments are regarding the large amount of Classical music that I do not know well.  For works that I am very familiar, and love, certain choices will bother me more than for that ocean of works which I have only a superficial exposure.

Well, except for very, truly, conspicuously weird interpretive choices (Gould's Mozart is a paradigmatic example) I am not bothered / challenged that much.

Quote
I like Schumann piano trios, and have streamed any and all I can find. I have never found one unenjoyable, and I couldn't even tell you the one I liked better or best.  I just don't listen that way.
an unenjoyable

Oh, to this I can relate alright and unreservedly. I have never found an unenjoyable recording of Mozart's or Schubert's piano sonatas, crazy Gould included. Actually, otomh I can remember one and only one recording of anything that I really abhorred --- this:

(https://diablusinmusica.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/tchaikovsky-complete-works-for-violin-orchestra-amoyal-dutoit-a.jpg)

To make Tchaikovsky sound as lifeless, bloodless and passionate as a corpse is actually no small feature. No, really, this is the worst recording of anything that I've ever heard.

Quote
That kind of splitting of hairs is irrelevant to me. Of course it is a performance by a specific musician.  I don't maintain an idea about the sonata in the abstract, or some ideal way the music is supposed to sound.  Generally, how ever it is realized by almost any performer will do.  I have been to many student recitals that did not detract at all from my enjoyment of Bach or Beethoven or other composers that were played.

Agreed 100%.

Quote
It usually would be some kind of thing that is an exaggeration of the intention, Glenn Gould's Mozart comes to mind.  But, really it is very rarely that I actually dislike a recording.

Ditto --- and be it noted that I dislike the above Dutoit recording much more than Gould's Mozart.

Quote
Now, for a work I love, and know well, e.g. Durufle Requiem, I am picky about the singing/soloists - but this is a sound quality not linked entirely to interpretation.

Here I part with you. For a work I love and know well, eg Schubert's D960, neither sound quality nor interpretation can stand in the way of my enjoyment. I have yet to listen to an unsatisfactory performance --- some time ago I thought and publicly stated that Clifford Curzon's Decca recording was bad, but not anymore.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 01, 2019, 09:39:54 AM
Florestan's post below point 2) is precisely what I would have answered to your post here. I agree completely with him.

Mange tak, Hr.

Is this Google Translate version correct? I doubt it so p;lease illuminate me. :)

Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: (: premont :) on June 01, 2019, 09:40:12 AM
That kind of splitting of hairs is irrelevant to me. Of course it is a performance by a specific musician.  I don't maintain an idea about the sonata in the abstract, or some ideal way the music is supposed to sound.  Generally, how ever it is realized by almost any performer will do.

I find the distinction between score (composition if you want) and performance most important. What I hear in my mind, while I read a score, is of course not an ideal abstract performance but just my interpretation of the score, which is only one of the many ways the score may be interpreted.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 01, 2019, 09:46:35 AM
What I hear in my mind, while I read a score

This is actually a very interesting topic. Is "reading a score" the same as "listening to a score"?
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Mirror Image on June 01, 2019, 09:46:54 AM
Exactly. Despite often made claims, not even a computer program / robot would be able to do it; let's take Mendelssohn's 1st Piano Trio movements:

    Molto allegro ed agitato (D minor)
    Andante con moto tranquillo (B-flat major)
    Scherzo: Leggiero e vivace (D major)
    Finale: Allegro assai appassionato (D minor, ending in D major)

Let's assume for the sake of discussion that one can univocally program "allegro", "andante" and "vivace" --- yet I defy even the most skilful programmer / robot manufacturer to make them play univocally "agitato", "tranquillo", "leggiero" and "assai appassionato".

"The music exactly as it'd written" is an unattainable, utopian goal --- and as with all utopian projects I'm not even sure that it is desirable.

Absolutely. Playing music exactly as it’s written is a goal that will never be truly accomplished and even if you did play it as it was written, it may be against the composer’s wishes as I look at composition as this flexible, almost living matter that can shaped in a multitude of ways.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: (: premont :) on June 01, 2019, 09:47:36 AM
Mange tak, Hr.

Is this Google Translate version correct? I doubt it so p;lease illuminate me. :)

Selv tak, hr. Skulle det være en anden gang?

Usually - after a comma - we do not write "hr" with capital h.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 01, 2019, 09:51:41 AM
Absolutely. Playing music exactly as it’s written is a goal that will never be truly accomplished and even if you did play it as it was written, it may be against the composer’s wishes as I look at composition as this flexible, almost living matter that can shaped in a multitude of ways.

Well, it's the same with literature. There's no such thing as "reading novels exactly as they're written". Is Don Quijote mad? Ortega y Gasset answered a resounding Yes!, while Unamuno propounded him as a commendable model of sanity.  :laugh:
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 01, 2019, 09:53:51 AM
Selv tak, hr. Skulle det være en anden gang?

Google Translate says:

Even thank you, Mr. Would it be another time?

It's the second sentence that I don't get.  :)


Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: (: premont :) on June 01, 2019, 09:54:17 AM
This is actually a very interesting topic. Is "reading a score" the same as "listening to a score"?

Well, when I read a score, I use my eyes and hear the music in my mind, not actually with my ears.

Listening to a score would IMO imply, that it at the same time is played by some musician(s), and that you can hear this and compare the performance with the score.

But honestly I do not know if some English speaking people use the concepts in the same sense.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: (: premont :) on June 01, 2019, 09:59:49 AM
Google Translate says:

Even thank you, Mr. Would it be another time?

It's the second sentence that I don't get.  :)

"Skulle det være en anden gang"

is used as a courtesy expression to assure future forthcomingness.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: San Antone on June 01, 2019, 10:00:51 AM
I find the distinction between score (composition if you want) and performance most important. What I hear in my mind, while I read a score, is of course not an ideal abstract performance but just my interpretation of the score, which is only one of the many ways the score may be interpreted.

I think notation is far too crude of a medium to capture all the variables of performance of what a composer intended.  It is all we have, however, but the score is merely the starting point (not summation) and is why there can be so many different but valid performances of the same Beethoven sonata.  And Bach left us hardly any markings in his scores, leaving the field wide open for interpretation.

I do not dispute the importance of the performer's art, and it is an indispensable ingredient to our experiencing music.  My only addition was to say that I marvel at the many GMG members who are able to discern differences in recordings and come up with a ranking of good, better, best, etc. 

As I said earlier, my interest is in hearing works (performed by anyone) that I haven't heard before, instead of listening, and comparing, different recordings of the same work.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: (: premont :) on June 01, 2019, 10:11:49 AM
I think notation is far too crude of a medium to capture all the variables of performance of what a composer intended.  It is all we have, however, but the score is merely the starting point (not summation) and is why there can be so many different but valid performances of the same Beethoven sonata.  And Bach left us hardly any markings in his scores, leaving the field wide open for interpretation.

Maybe we are in agreement, but we express it differently. What I want to maintain, is, that it is not the composition, you enjoy, but an interpretation of the score.

Quote from: San Antone
I do not dispute the importance of the performer's art, and it is an indispensable ingredient to our experiencing music.  My only addition was to say that I marvel at the many GMG members who are able to discern differences in recordings and come up with a ranking of good, better, best, etc.


I only rarely do comparative listening, but consider every recording according to its own premises. But of course not everything is to my taste.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 01, 2019, 10:41:44 AM
"Skulle det være en anden gang"

is used as a courtesy expression to assure future forthcomingness.

I see. Thanks again --- and likewise.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 01, 2019, 10:45:52 AM
I think notation is far too crude of a medium to capture all the variables of performance of what a composer intended.  It is all we have, however, but the score is merely the starting point (not summation) and is why there can be so many different but valid performances of the same Beethoven sonata.  And Bach left us hardly any markings in his scores, leaving the field wide open for interpretation.

Yes, yes, yes and yes.

Quote
I marvel at the many GMG members who are able to discern differences in recordings and come up with a ranking of good, better, best, etc. 

I marvel at that, too.

Quote
my interest is in hearing works (performed by anyone) that I haven't heard before, instead of listening, and comparing, different recordings of the same work.

Ditto.

Looks like our approach is strikingly similar and the differences, if any, are negligible.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 01, 2019, 10:49:09 AM
I only rarely do comparative listening, but consider every recording according to its own premises.

This.

Quote
But of course not everything is to my taste.

My taste is eclectic enough that virtually everything is to my taste.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 01, 2019, 12:29:54 PM
This conversation has improved considerably.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: San Antone on June 01, 2019, 01:30:36 PM
Maybe we are in agreement, but we express it differently. What I want to maintain, is, that it is not the composition, you enjoy, but an interpretation of the score.

I don't know why you keep harping on this semantical distinction - i.e. the composition as opposed to the realization of it through a performance/interpretation.  It is music written by Beethoven, and the music will essentially be the same performed by a dozen different pianists.  Yes, there will be some differences in tempo, or articulation, or phrasing - but the overall effect will be of the same work, written by Beethoven.

A performance does not exist without the composition, whereas the composition exists with or without a performer.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: (: premont :) on June 01, 2019, 01:43:40 PM
I don't know why you keep harping on this semantical distinction - i.e. the composition as opposed to the realization of it through a performance/interpretation.  It is music written by Beethoven, and the music will essentially be the same performed by a dozen different pianists.  Yes, there will be some differences in tempo, or articulation, or phrasing - but the overall effect will be of the same work, written by Beethoven.

I think this distinction is very important in order to assess the crucial role of the performer. Every performance includes a large number of important choices, maybe fewer when it is about a Beethoven sonata, but very many more when it is about Early music. Compare Ensemble Organum's recording of Machaut's messe with Konrad Ruhland's - almost two different pieces of music, and what is true Machaut i.e. the composition?

Quote from: San Antone
A performance does not exist without the composition, whereas the composition exists with or without a performer.

Yes, the composition (the score) exists, but not the music.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 01, 2019, 01:48:09 PM
A performance does not exist without the composition, whereas the composition exists with or without a performer.

Yes, the composition (the score) exists, but not the music.

You, gentlemen, make one and the same point --- with which I agree.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 01, 2019, 01:51:52 PM
Compare Ensemble Organum's recording of Machaut's messe with Konrad Ruhland's - almost two different pieces of music, and what is true Machaut i.e. the composition?

Absent what Machaut himself would have made of it, every performance is true Machaut.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: San Antone on June 01, 2019, 02:20:11 PM
I think this distinction is very important in order to assess the crucial role of the performer. Every performance includes a large number of important choices, maybe fewer when it is about a Beethoven sonata, but very many more when it is about Early music. Compare Ensemble Organum's recording of Machaut's messe with Konrad Ruhland's - almost two different pieces of music, and what is true Machaut i.e. the composition?

I agree that in early music manuscripts we have are open to a much wider range of interpretations, and a stronger argument can be made that the Machaut Messe as performed by Andrew Parrott is very different from that offered by Bjorn Schmelzer.  But the music is still recognizably Machaut's.  It is also true that some early music directors intentionally obfuscate the interpretive choices by willfully ignoring established musicology and performance practice in a self-absorbed vision of their own importance.

Quote
Yes, the composition (the score) exists, but not the music.

By necessity I must experience a piece of music via a performance by a musician, even if that musician is myself.  But I will never elevate the performer above the composer in the equation.  I am playing Beethoven's notes and score directions, and there are defined limits to my interpretive choices, limits defined by Beethoven.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 01, 2019, 03:40:12 PM
I’m rather sympathetic to San Antone’s views on this.

Some of the arguments about composition vs music start to run into trouble once you leave classical music and move into pop music where the recorded form of something IS presented as more definitive. The problems of notation not being precise enough are bypassed. Decisions are made in the studio / by the producer as to how exactly the music will sound, to everyone.

Of course, this doesn’t preclude live performances which will vary, or “covers” by other performers. But printed notation actually stopped being the way that music was primarily presented to the world a while ago.

Plus of course there was a time before our notation system was invented, and music was shared directly between people learning a tune.

There’s an overall movement towards more and more detail in how a piece of music is transmitted, and I think that’s simply because the amount of detail that is POSSIBLE has increased.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Mandryka on June 01, 2019, 08:14:20 PM

 I marvel at the many GMG members who are able to discern differences in recordings and come up with a ranking of good, better, best, etc. 

.

Aren’t you the bloke with 250 recordings of the Liszt sonata and a plan to rank them all?
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Mandryka on June 01, 2019, 08:21:27 PM
.  But the music is still recognizably Machaut's. 

Sometimes that sort of judgement call is really tough to make.

I remember once talking positively about a recording of Schumann’s symphonic Etudes, I think it was Ernst Levy’s, and someone here, with a monika something  like Dancing Divertimento, said he could hardly recognise it as Schumann! So what’s recognisable to one may not be to another.

I remember feeling like this myself when I was exploring Cage’s piano etudes, and I came across the performances by Claudio Crismani - I really couldn’t tell which etude I was listening to!
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Mandryka on June 01, 2019, 08:27:53 PM

By necessity I must experience a piece of music via a performance by a musician, even if that musician is myself.  But I will never elevate the performer above the composer in the equation.  I am playing Beethoven's notes and score directions, and there are defined limits to my interpretive choices, limits defined by Beethoven.

There’s an alternative view, which is that the score and all the historical context which gave it its original significance are now a series of suggestions for interpretation. That the role of the interpreter is to make use of his knowledge to create something which works in some way for his audience. Peter Philips wrote this

Quote
I believe that sixteenth-century composers would have expected far greater unanimity between pieces in performance than we give them.; but I repeat that what was acceptable to sixteenth century ears is probably not so to twentieth century ones. To have to sit through a concert of Renaissance polyphony undertaken on these principles would be to understand why the early Baroque composers reacted so strongly against it.


Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Mandryka on June 01, 2019, 08:41:08 PM
I agree that in early music manuscripts we have are open to a much wider range of interpretations, and a stronger argument can be made that the Machaut Messe as performed by Andrew Parrott is very different from that offered by Bjorn Schmelzer.  But the music is still recognizably Machaut's.  It is also true that some early music directors intentionally obfuscate the interpretive choices by willfully ignoring established musicology and performance practice in a self-absorbed vision of their own importance.



Do you really think Rebecca Stewart is a self absorbed obfuscater? Hers was an example of the Machaut mass which seemed to me so different from the mainstream that it’s hardly recognisable by me.

My own feeling, though I haven’t probably thought about this enough, is that “established musicology” is less established than you think. To take an example, established musicology can’t even agree on tempos in Beethoven, or pitch in Sheppard, or phrasing in the Bach cello suites. Or indeed, how to sing Gregorian chant.



Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: San Antone on June 01, 2019, 08:49:23 PM
Aren’t you the bloke with 250 recordings of the Liszt sonata and a plan to rank them all?

Yes, but I had to come up with a numbering method to keep track of each performance and really concentrate on each performance for no other purpose than to make those comparisons - which turned out a most unrewarding way to listen to the work. It is the exception that proves the rule. I am not even sure why I got started doing it, and have gotten bogged down a little over half way through.  (It didn't help that I had lost all my data due to a computer malfunction when I was 99% done, but my last backup was at only 50%.)

 ::)
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: San Antone on June 01, 2019, 09:42:15 PM
My own feeling, though I haven’t probably thought about this enough, is that “established musicology” is less established than you think. To take an example, established musicology can’t even agree on tempos in Beethoven, or pitch in Sheppard, or phrasing in the Bach cello suites. Or indeed, how to sing Gregorian chant.

Marcel Peres is a perfect example of the kind of obfuscation I was referring to.  His willful denial of 150 years musicology which established the way to sing Gregorian chant is a cultural crime, IMO.  I only wish J.F. Weber would have stuck around GMG if for no other reason than to offer the black letter evidence of Peres' obfuscation. But after reading through the Chant thread Weber was so turned off because so much of the focus was on outliers (his word) like Peres and Schmelzer, he chose not to.

But, again, despite Peres and Schmelzer's departure from long-standing musicology in early music, their music-making is enjoyable and worthwhile. I just wish they would drop the pretense of claiming that their way is more authentic and just embrace the fact that because the manuscripts were created in an environment of oral transmission, and much of their interpretation has been lost, they have the liberty to sing Machaut in the way they imagine in their mind's ear.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 01, 2019, 10:40:48 PM
Do you really think Rebecca Stewart is a self absorbed obfuscater? Hers was an example of the Machaut mass which seemed to me so different from the mainstream that it’s hardly recognisable by me.

The question that arises in my mind, then, if things get stretched that far, is whether it's actually valid to continually to advertise and market the result as "the Machaut mass".

Seriously, if your focus is on Rebecca Stewart (not someone I actually know) and you're looking to buy another Rebecca Stewart recording because you like what she does, then no doubt this isn't a problem. But if someone likes the Machaut mass and buys the same recording on the basis that they want a recording of the Machaut mass and it's billed as a recording of that, then the recording not being recognisable as the Machaut mass becomes a serious problem.

This all gets caught up in the question of the role of the composer versus the role of the performers. There is certainly a fair chunk of musical history where the view was that the composer sets the ground rules, and a performer ought to stay within them. The extreme of this was Ravel's response when someone complained that he treated performers as slaves, because he retorted that performers are slaves. There are other periods where people would have been much more comfortable treating a composer's notation as merely a kind of suggestion which could be mucked about with. But I do think there's a legitimate question as to just how far you can muck about with a composer's material and continue to invoke the name of the composer and claim that you're performing the composer's music (as opposed to, say, performing music "inspired by" or "after" that composer).
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Mandryka on June 01, 2019, 10:46:05 PM
His willful denial of 150 years musicology which established the way to sing Gregorian chant is a cultural crime, IMO. 


Established in the Roman Catholic church you mean? I don't think the Solesmes way  is

established musicology

and it's really only because of it's blessing from popes that it is

established . . . performance practice

I only wish J.F. Weber would have stuck around GMG if for no other reason than to offer the black letter evidence of Peres' obfuscation.



That would have been cool!
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Mandryka on June 01, 2019, 10:56:30 PM
The question that arises in my mind, then, if things get stretched that far, is whether it's actually valid to continually to advertise and market the result as "the Machaut mass".

Seriously, if your focus is on Rebecca Stewart (not someone I actually know) and you're looking to buy another Rebecca Stewart recording because you like what she does, then no doubt this isn't a problem. But if someone likes the Machaut mass and buys the same recording on the basis that they want a recording of the Machaut mass and it's billed as a recording of that, then the recording not being recognisable as the Machaut mass becomes a serious problem.



Rebecca Stewart is a serious academic musicologist, I wondered if San Antone would argue that she is

willfully ignoring established musicology and performance practice in a self-absorbed vision of their own importance.



Quote from: some copywriter here http://www.cantusmodalis.org/component/content/article/61-teachers-biografies/33-rebecca-stewart
Rebecca Stewart is an (ethno)musicologist and singer, retired head of the early vocal department of the Brabants/Fontys Conservatorium and co-founder/ex ‘maestro di cappella’of the Cappella Pratensis. She received her PhD in ethnomusicology in 1974 after having worked for many years in Hindusthani classical music. Since moving to The Netherlands in that same year she has concentrated mostly on early western music. After having taught for seventeen years in the Royal Conservatory of The Hague (as co-founder of the Baroque singing department and as a teacher of theory), she was invited to begin a new early music department in Brabant in which singers (and later instrumentalists) received a vocally-oriented practical and theoretical education which extended from the earliest chant traditions of Western Europe to the end of the Renaissance. She has published several articles concerning the relationship between singing and modal music. Primarily in her function as leader of the Cappella Pratensis she has made many CDs. After her retirement she formed and is leader of the Ensemble and Center Cantus Modalis. She continues to give concerts, workshops and lecture demonstrations.


Another good example would be Tom Beghin, I'm thinking of his hearing machine Beethoven

(https://shop.new-art.nl/content/img/new_products/1508746233.jpg)

I have a suspicion that in this bit of the argument some people are confusing

established musicology .



with

established  performance practice





Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Mandryka on June 01, 2019, 11:02:38 PM
The question that arises in my mind, then, if things get stretched that far, is whether it's actually valid to continually to advertise and market the result as "the Machaut mass".



The point you're making is related to something San Antone said

It is music written by Beethoven, and the music will essentially be the same performed by a dozen different pianists.  Yes, there will be some differences in tempo, or articulation, or phrasing - but the overall effect will be of the same work, written by Beethoven.



If the music is essentially the same, shares the same essence, then you can call it the same name.

But as a matter of convention, people do call Rebecca Stewart's and Marcel Peres's and Bjorn Schmelzer's performances "The Machaut Mass" -- that's the practice which has developed in the community of people who discuss and think about these things. If you think that there's something incoherent about that practice, then over to you to make out the argument.

My own feeling regarding early music is that there has been a academic challenge to established performance practice, which I like to call The Modal Singing Movement, and that challenge extends from chant through Notre Dame polyphonony through to Gombert and Gesualdo. It is a major trend of C21 music making. And so it's not surprising that there's a conservative reaction, all the more so because so much of the music is linked to the church, where there's all sorts of dogmas. This sort of argument tends to home in on early music not just because the manuscripts are more open, but because Modal Singing is relatively well established and worked out and academically supported and attractive to audience.


Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 01, 2019, 11:27:42 PM
I just DID make that argument. Not based on San Antone’s words but your own.

There’s something incongruous between now invoking the authority of others to assert the essence of the Machaut mass is there, and your own previous testimony that you, with your own ears, struggled to hear any such thing.

Either our own ears and minds are relevant to this conversation, or you can just run to authority and basically tell me that because I don’t have a degree in musicology I have nothing useful to contribute.

But what you cannot do is have it both ways at the same time. Having this discussion is not compatible with suddenly invoking a community who think and discuss about these things that you exclude US from.

If your choice is that it’s all up to the experts, then we might as well just shut down the conversation here.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: San Antone on June 02, 2019, 02:10:20 AM
Established in the Roman Catholic church you mean? I don't think the Solesmes way  is

and it's really only because of it's blessing from popes that it is

That would have been cool!

You are overlooking the fact that Peres has little or no actual musicological basis for his interpretations, and from what I understand, has either misunderstood the sources he cites, or has intentionally misled his audience. 

He has employed the same melismatic style of singing, because of the cantor he uses, in every recording of chant, whether or not it is appropriate according to existing musicological evidence.  But that does not mean his are not very rewarding performances, since I think they are.  There is no reason to attempt to prove that they are "the way" - they are Peres' way, and that should be enough.

And I am no expert nor a scholar in this matter, but trust those who are enough to believe that the Solesmes way of singing chant has been accepted for well over a century by the early music scholarly community (within and without the church) as "the way" to sing chant.

Peres is the outlier, not Solesmes.

And why do you think I would question Rebecca Stewart's scholarship?  It is you who found her recording/performance of the Machaut Messe "so different from the mainstream" - not me (an opinion I do not share).  Hers is a fine performance, and I don't hear anything odd or strange about it.  I don't enjoy it as much as Mary Berry's or Andrew Parrott's, but Stewart's is not unidiomatic.

We have wandered far off the topic of this thread.  And have begun to repeat our arguments from the other thread, here.  Maybe it is time for us to agree to disagree.

Neither one of us is expert in these matters, I am relying upon Weber, you on Peres - and I would prefer that those two gents would fight it out, as opposed to the two of us.  That would be a most entertaining and enlightening debate.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Mandryka on June 02, 2019, 03:50:07 AM
With all due respect to you and Jerome, you are forgetting that Peres studied with Michel Huglo at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique prior to recording for Harminia Mundi. Huglo had been at Solesmes. Oh, and by the way,  he doesn’t use the same cantors or indeed the same melismatic style in all his chant recordings, have you heard his Missa Tournai, or his Hildegard psalms CD - from memory they’re not like that at all, maybe much of the stuff in the Auxerre recording.


Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Pat B on June 03, 2019, 05:00:19 AM
But, again, despite Peres and Schmelzer's departure from long-standing musicology in early music, their music-making is enjoyable and worthwhile. I just wish they would drop the pretense of claiming that their way is more authentic and just embrace the fact that because the manuscripts were created in an environment of oral transmission, and much of their interpretation has been lost, they have the liberty to sing Machaut in the way they imagine in their mind's ear.

Where do Peres and Schmelzer claim their way is more authentic?
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: San Antone on June 03, 2019, 05:21:54 AM
Where do Peres and Schmelzer claim their way is more authentic?

You would need to read their essays, some of Peres' writing has been quoted in this tread.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Mandryka on June 03, 2019, 11:59:17 AM
Yes it’s a nice quote of San Antone’s that Pat B found because it puts the emphasis quite rightly on oral tradition. I am out of my depth at the moment here, I don’t know what “musical anthropology” has to say about oralcy - I shall investigate. I’d be surprised if associations (confrères)  with long practices transmitted orally are just discounted, dismissed, by modern researchers, though I believe that the C19 researchers at Solesmes did exactly that.

There’s a fabulous bit in one of Peres’s books where he talks about the first time he showed Angelopoulos a very early manuscript, the Solesmes method just couldn’t makes sense of the neumes, he says that Angelopoulos knew exactly how to turn it into music. But this is clearly contentious, and the approach was a major reason why Dominique Vellard and Ben Bagby left EO and formed their own ensembles.

Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: BasilValentine on June 03, 2019, 03:05:23 PM
Music takes different people differently. How true that is. But one thing seems pretty standard here at GMG (and almost everywhere else, for that matter), and that is that music has emotional content. Without getting into the merits of that view, though if that happens it happens, I'm more interested in the moment in finding out if anyone at GMG listens to music itself, without having to turn it into something else. Sure, music sets all sorts of different feelings and ideas going in all sorts of listeners, but that power must surely go without saying. What it seems to have no power to do is convince anyone that it's good and fine and strong just being its own sweet self, not causing emotional reactions, not expressing emotional states, not telling complicated little stories, just sounding.

Anyway, the people who have responded to relm1's despair thread, needn't respond to this one. I already know who you are. What I'm interested in is whether there are people who just like listening to music qua music. People for whom music itself is so powerful, so sufficient, that there's never any need on their part to turn it into other things that aren't music before it becomes pleasing or understandable.

I don't buy the dichotomy at the basis of your query: that the emotion or expression in a musical work is "content," as distinguished from "the notes," meaning the work's formal properties or "structure." I don't buy that "the notes" are the music and the expression is something else derivative and external to the music. Expression and structure are indecomposable. In music from Beethoven on, especially, the logic of a musical work's expressive arc is often a primary factor in its formal coherence. If one isn't hearing the indecomposable effect of a work's formal and emergent expressive properties, one isn't hearing the music. Expression is baked in and integral. IMO, obviously.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: San Antone on June 03, 2019, 04:41:11 PM
This is a request to a moderator to consider moving the lengthy off-topic discussion of chant to the Chant thread.

Thanks.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 03, 2019, 11:32:17 PM
I don't buy the dichotomy at the basis of your query: that the emotion or expression in a musical work is "content," as distinguished from "the notes," meaning the work's formal properties or "structure." I don't buy that "the notes" are the music and the expression is something else derivative and external to the music. Expression and structure are indecomposable. In music from Beethoven on, especially, the logic of a musical work's expressive arc is often a primary factor in its formal coherence. If one isn't hearing the indecomposable effect of a work's formal and emergent expressive properties, one isn't hearing the music. Expression is baked in and integral. IMO, obviously.

This.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: some guy on June 04, 2019, 01:01:26 AM
I don't buy the dichotomy at the basis of your query: that the emotion or expression in a musical work is "content," as distinguished from "the notes," meaning the work's formal properties or "structure." I don't buy that "the notes" are the music and the expression is something else derivative and external to the music. Expression and structure are indecomposable. In music from Beethoven on, especially, the logic of a musical work's expressive arc is often a primary factor in its formal coherence. If one isn't hearing the indecomposable effect of a work's formal and emergent expressive properties, one isn't hearing the music. Expression is baked in and integral. IMO, obviously.
But what you're not buying, as has already been the case on this thread, is something that's not only not for sale but something not in what you've quoted. I not only never suggested that "the emotion or expression in a musical work is 'content'," but I suggest that I don't believe that emotion is "in" a musical work but rather a result of a listener engaging with the musical work, which engagement is so often a translation. (I also don't think that music expresses anything, or nothing so specific as what any individual listener can think they're getting out of it. Music does seem to be able to make people feel like they're getting messages, but as those messages differ, sometimes radically, from listener to listener, I think the more prudent conclusion would be that the actual source of the messages is the listener, not the music.)

Anyway, look at what you quoted. The statement about emotional content is not my belief but my conclusion about what other people believe.

I also, just by the way, do not think that "the notes" are "the work's formal properties or 'structure'." That misapprehension is, I think, at the core of the dichotomy that I reject, namely that if one is not responding to the emotional expression, then one is analyzing the formal properties. I'm saying something quite other, that "the notes" themselves are both sensual and sufficient. That is, to thoroughly enjoy a piece of music, one does not have to turn it into something else, philosophy, autobiography, narrative, massage, or any of a host of other "uses" to which music is so often put. Just the sounds that you're hearing are enough for a fully pleasurable experience. And, you'll recall, that was the ostensible reason for starting this topic, to see if there were others who found music to be a) a thing and b) a complete and sufficient thing.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 04, 2019, 01:10:30 AM
But what you're not buying, as has already been the case on this thread, is something that's not only not for sale but something not in what you've quoted. I not only never suggested that "the emotion or expression in a musical work is 'content'," but I suggest that I don't believe that emotion is "in" a musical work but rather a result of a listener engaging with the musical work, which engagement is so often a translation. (I also don't think that music expresses anything, or nothing so specific as what any individual listener can think they're getting out of it. Music does seem to be able to make people feel like they're getting messages, but as those messages differ, sometimes radically, from listener to listener, I think the more prudent conclusion would be that the actual source of the messages is the listener, not the music.)

Anyway, look at what you quoted. The statement about emotional content is not my belief but my conclusion about what other people believe.

I also, just by the way, do not think that "the notes" are "the work's formal properties or 'structure'." That misapprehension is, I think, at the core of the dichotomy that I reject, namely that if one is not responding to the emotional expression, then one is analyzing the formal properties. I'm saying something quite other, that "the notes" themselves are both sensual and sufficient. That is, to thoroughly enjoy a piece of music, one does not have to turn it into something else, philosophy, autobiography, narrative, massage, or any of a host of other "uses" to which music is so often put. Just the sounds that you're hearing are enough for a fully pleasurable experience. And, you'll recall, that was the ostensible reason for starting this topic, to see if there were others who found music to be a) a thing and b) a complete and sufficient thing.

Your proposition creates its own false dichotomy. You set up the claim of music as a "thing" as distinct from things like "philosophy" and "autobiography", which I can understand. But crucially, you also put emotional content on that side of the equation, on the opposite side of from "music as thing".

Why just 2 categories? To me, the notion of putting emotional reactions into the same category as things like inserting a philosophical or autobiographical into music is quite foolish. Reacting to music emotionally is not remotely in the same category as trying to, say, mine the autobiographical details of the composer.  Saying "this is sad music" is not at all the same as saying "this is sad music and therefore the composer must have been having a bad time of it".

I'm exasperated as anybody by many attempts to shove extramusical ideas and meanings into a piece of music that was not presented by the composer as having any kind of programme. But your choice of language is to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

If you think that "the notes" are "sensual", then you are in fact advocating a reaction to the notes. While continuing this silly claim that people having emotional reactions is somehow extramusical in some different way to your own enjoyment of music.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 04, 2019, 01:15:12 AM
In other words, I do listen music as "the thing itself". And I get pleasure out of it. That being an emotional reaction to any sane person.

EDIT: I note the original post rejects "causing emotional reactions" but wants to find people who "like" listening to music or find it "pleasing". That's a pretty powerful demonstration of the lack of coherence in the dichotomy you're attempting to create.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 04, 2019, 01:38:08 AM
One additional remark:

If music doesn't have emotional content, what the blazes was Sibelius doing writing a piece called Valse triste? How dare he indicate that the notes are sad, eh?
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 04, 2019, 02:46:19 AM
One additional remark:

If music doesn't have emotional content, what the blazes was Sibelius doing writing a piece called Valse triste? How dare he indicate that the notes are sad, eh?

Seems like for the OP the "completeness and sufficiency" of music means that it is nothing else than a combinatorial game of sounds with no other meaning and purpose than the combination itself --- but this notion is given the lie to by virtually every great composer's (utterances about) music.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 04, 2019, 03:03:01 AM
nothing else than a combinatorial game of sounds with no other meaning and purpose than the combination itself

The phrase "aural Sudoku" just popped into my head.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 04, 2019, 03:53:25 AM
The phrase "aural Sudoku" just popped into my head.

Nicely put.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: some guy on June 04, 2019, 05:44:27 AM
Madiel, your struggles might be less, um, strugglesome if you cease conflating "emotional content" with "emotional reaction."
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 04, 2019, 06:46:22 AM
Madiel, your struggles might be less, um, strugglesome if you cease conflating "emotional content" with "emotional reaction."

That's not Madiel's conflation, but precisely yours:

t's good and fine and strong just being its own sweet self, not causing emotional reactions, not expressing emotional states, not telling complicated little stories, just sounding.

You say above in plain English that music does not, or should not, cause emotional reactions and that is does not, or should not, express emotional states. Now, expressing emotional states means exactly having emotional content. Ergo, you ban from music both emotional reactions and emotional content.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ken B on June 04, 2019, 07:01:10 AM
One additional remark:

If music doesn't have emotional content, what the blazes was Sibelius doing writing a piece called Valse triste? How dare he indicate that the notes are sad, eh?
Well that is interesting. If you read Glenda Goss's biography she has an appendix where she reprints Sibelius's letter to the publisher asking if they could mix tears into the ink.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 04, 2019, 11:21:34 AM
Well that is interesting. If you read Glenda Goss's biography she has an appendix where she reprints Sibelius's letter to the publisher asking if they could mix tears into the ink.

Could you please post it here?
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ghost of Baron Scarpia on June 04, 2019, 11:50:42 AM
...your struggles might be less, um, strugglesome if you cease conflating "emotional content" with "emotional reaction."

That is the crux of it, IMO.

I don't get why this issue is so contentious. The phenomena seem so obvious. The human mind attaches emotion to everything. Sound, in particular, musical or not, can be demonstrated to produce an emotional reaction. Music is a pleasing arrangement of sounds and the whole point of it is that it works on multiple levels at once. Rhythm, melody, harmony, beauty of timbre, unfolding in time. As we experience it intellectual, sensuous, emotional responses, cultural and social references, all superimpose on each other to create a rich whole. As we experience it we are free to focus our attention on whatever aspect we please, while responding to all aspects at some level. And on top of that, the very human need to claim that someone else is not experiencing it right, apparently. Music evokes emotion, but not necessarily the emotion that the composer of performer thinks it does. It does not 'communicate' emotion, except in the most blatantly programed music.

With regard to classical music performance, there is a fairly detailed specification on paper which specifies what notes to play when and how loud. Probably the composer knows precisely how he or she thinks it should be performed, but there is some considerable leeway for the performer to vary the performance while staying within the bounds laid out by the score. Listening to a performance of a Beethoven Sonata by Arrau, by Kempff, by Fischer, by Pollini, and by your cousin at her piano recital will make obvious how much leeway there is.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on June 04, 2019, 12:38:02 PM
Depends on the music. More often than not I listen to music as an abstract art form, and derive pleasure from the absolute beauty if it, which may involve appreciating a melody, the skill of the composer in interweaving independent voices into a contrapuntal fabric, transforming and combining musical themes in different ways, creating beautiful harmonies. Other times I find it interesting to imagine different emotional scenarios that are implied by the music.

Abstraction aside, it is a biological fact that sounds (including non-musical sounds) induce emotional reactions in the human mind, so there is a basis for connecting music to emotion. But that does not mean we are bound by that. For what it's worth, I don't think it can be claimed with any basis that music communicates emotion. It evokes emotion. The emotion evoked is not necessarily the emotion that the composer intended to evoke.

Completely agree.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 04, 2019, 12:50:56 PM
That's not Madiel's conflation, but precisely yours:

Exactly. Don’t think I didn’t look back to examine the wording. The whole problem is that whatever distinction some guy is trying to make when divorcing emotion from music, the language being used is hopeless for the task and keeps coming across as denying the entire purpose of creating music in the first place: eliciting reactions.

You know what we call music that doesn’t elicit reactions? BORING. We turn it off.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on June 04, 2019, 12:57:31 PM
This will be a droll tangent here:

In June 1930, a Berlin newspaper wrote to Schoenberg asking him to comment on the "musical life and the shift of the center of gravity from Vienna to Berlin."

Schoenberg replied:

Even before the war people in Vienna were rightly and wrongly proud and ashamed of being less active than Berlin.

Even at the time Berlin showed a lovely and intense interest in recognizing and explaining the symptoms of a work of art, something that was missing in Vienna, thanks to centuries of experience in composing.

Even in those days whatever was new was derided after several performances in Berlin,whereas in Vienna it needed only one performance. In extreme cases--in both places--no performance at all.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on June 04, 2019, 12:58:47 PM
Exactly. Don’t think I didn’t look back to examine the wording. The whole problem is that whatever distinction some guy is trying to make when divorcing emotion from music, the language being used is hopeless for the task and keeps coming across as denying the entire purpose of creating music in the first place: eliciting reactions.

You know what we call music that doesn’t elicit reactions? BORING. We turn it off.

Good.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 04, 2019, 01:03:26 PM
As for the proposition that music doesn’t communicate, 2 responses.

The first is that you can make exactly the same propositions about written and spoken language. In fact this thread is as good a demonstration as anything of the scatter-gun approach of putting words together in the hope that others will comprehend, but risking the chance that they won’t. I suppose people could just admire the words themselves (which might lead to putting the prettiest words together on some aesthetic principle), but when I choose a sequence of letters I generally am trying to communicate something. 26 letters are arguably capable of slightly more precision than 12 notes, but generally when people try to deny musical communication they don’t realise they are using the same arguments that would deny their own communication with words.

The second response is that composers themselves repeatedly indicate they do have intentions to communicate. And no, it doesn’t have to be Programme music. Composers who aren’t interested in that still use adjectives like “triste”. Some marches are marked as funeral marches. Mozart wrote a musical joke and frankly Haydn wrote plenty. Composers wrote tragically, they wrote heroically, and over and over again they actually demonstrate that it is perfectly possible to give the vast majority of listeners the kind of feeling they wanted to give.

The fact that a few listeners get a different feeling is no more proof that music doesn’t communicate than the fact that no matter what you write or say, and however well you write or say it, some people WILL MISUNDERSTAND.

Seriously. This whole argument boils down to “people get different things out of it so there must be nothing in it”. It’s a frankly weird form of reasoning. It’s like saying that because the several blind people made wrong conclusions when feeling an elephant, there was no elephant.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ghost of Baron Scarpia on June 04, 2019, 01:18:47 PM
As for the proposition that music doesn’t communicate, 2 responses.

The first is that you can make exactly the same propositions about written and spoken language. In fact this thread is as good a demonstration as anything of the scatter-gun approach of putting words together in the hope that others will comprehend, but risking the chance that they won’t. I suppose people could just admire the words themselves (which might lead to putting the prettiest words together on some aesthetic principle), but when I choose a sequence of letters I generally am trying to communicate something. 26 letters are arguably capable of slightly more precision than 12 notes, but generally when people try to deny musical communication they don’t realise they are using the same arguments that would deny their own communication with words.

The second response is that composers themselves repeatedly indicate they do have intentions to communicate. And no, it doesn’t have to be Programme music. Composers who aren’t interested in that still use adjectives like “triste”. Some marches are marked as funeral marches. Mozart wrote a musical joke and frankly Haydn wrote plenty. Composers wrote tragically, they wrote heroically, and over and over again they actually demonstrate that it is perfectly possible to give the vast majority of listeners the kind of feeling they wanted to give.

The fact that a few listeners get a different feeling is no more proof that music doesn’t communicate than the fact that no matter what you write or say, and however well you write or say it, some people WILL MISUNDERSTAND.

Seriously. This whole argument boils down to “people get different things out of it so there must be nothing in it”. It’s a frankly weird form of reasoning. It’s like saying that because the several blind people made wrong conclusions when feeling an elephant, there was no elephant.

I don't agree. It may be true on a thread like this that you can write something and someone else can claim you said something that you had no intention of saying. That is because this is a discussion of "philosophy" which is the art of putting together a lot of tautological statements and/or deciding to use words to which you have assigned your own private meaning.

In the ordinary use of language there is very little ambiguity, if you don't want there to be.

There are 17 cats in that house.

The car costs $22,000, unless you want the sunroof, which will cost an extra $2,000.

I will be home at 5:30 and fix dinner. Don't be late.

That hat is just ugly, I refuse to wear it.

Can anyone claim to misunderstand these statements.

Someone plays Faure Barcarole No 5. Can you tell me what it communicates? Maybe it communicates Faure's idea that you can imply a melody and a harmony without ever playing a well defined chord or playing an explicit melody.

Maybe we can agree on the "meaning" of a Sousa march. That is music which has a overpowering social cue.

Of course there are poems, which are designed to be beautiful combinations of words with ambiguous meanings. Poems play with language, they don't use language for its practical purpose.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ghost of Baron Scarpia on June 04, 2019, 01:28:57 PM
Completely agree.

I have to admit, in the rare event that someone agrees with me on this board I am tempted to print it out and put it up on my refrigerator.  :laugh:
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on June 04, 2019, 01:39:33 PM
I have to admit, in the rare event that someone agrees with me on this board I am tempted to print it out and put it up on my refrigerator.  :laugh:

(* chortle *)
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 04, 2019, 01:47:03 PM
I don't agree. It may be true on a thread like this that you can write something and someone else can claim you said something that you had no intention of saying. That is because this is a discussion of "philosophy" which is the art of putting together a lot of tautological statements and/or deciding to use words to which you have assigned your own private meaning.

In the ordinary use of language there is very little ambiguity, if you don't want there to be.

There are 17 cats in that house.

The car costs $22,000, unless you want the sunroof, which will cost an extra $2,000.

I will be home at 5:30 and fix dinner. Don't be late.

That hat is just ugly, I refuse to wear it.

Can anyone claim to misunderstand these statements.

Someone plays Faure Barcarole No 5. Can you tell me what it communicates? Maybe it communicates Faure's idea that you can imply a melody and a harmony without ever playing a well defined chord or playing an explicit melody.

Maybe we can agree on the "meaning" of a Sousa march. That is music which has a overpowering social cue.

Of course there are poems, which are designed to be beautiful combinations of words with ambiguous meanings. Poems play with language, they don't use language for its practical purpose.

Again there’s a problem with your reasoning. You correctly demonstrate that words are less ambiguous than music (while noting that some words are more ambiguous than others). You confine the ambiguity to poetry, but let me assure you, as a person who wrestles with the ambiguity of language while writing laws for a living, the ambiguity is far wider than poetry.

But the flaw in your reasoning is: music is more ambiguous, therefore music has no meaning. Sorry? How does that work?

 Do you think POETRY has no meaning because the language is different? Do you think that an impressionist painting conveys less because it doesn’t have sharp lines, or do you think it conveys nothing at all? Do you think that because an electron can’t be pinned down in a particular spot it simply has no location?

I simply don’t get this desire to convert “ambiguous” into “meaningless”. No-one is claiming that music can tell you what time to be home for dinner unless it involves a dinner bell. But I find it quite bizarre to conclude that because a Faure barcarolle (and thanks for picking a favourite piece) doesn’t contain that kind of specificity we ought to jump to the opposite end of the spectrum and conclude it doesn’t represent any kind of intention to communicate any kind of feeling.

Music appreciation does not consist SOLELY of admiring the abstract quality of the construction of the counterpoint. If that was it, we wouldn’t be able to meaningfully distinguish between various masterpieces that we undoubtedly do distinguish between. Various times where composers provided 2 or 3 contrasting pieces would be an exercise in repetition. Read one poem, read them all.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 04, 2019, 01:51:00 PM
I mean, there’s no doubt in my mind that some of Faure’s barcarolles are a good deal sadder or angrier than others.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ghost of Baron Scarpia on June 04, 2019, 02:15:55 PM
But the flaw in your reasoning is: music is more ambiguous, therefore music has no meaning. Sorry? How does that work?

I do not claim or agree with the statement that the primary difference between music and language is the degree of ambiguity. Peanut butter is softer than steel. That doesn't mean that the only distinction between peanut butter and steel is the surface hardness. There is a qualitative difference between what music can convey and what language can convey. Can music pose or answer a question (even an "emotional" one)?

How did Brienne of Tarth feel when Jamie Lannister returned to Kings Landing?

Answer 1) She was sad because she loved him and she would be lonely.
Answer 2) She was disappointed because she believed he had redeemed himself, when it turns out he relapsed to his evil ways.

Answer 3) Faure Nocturne No 1.
Answer 4) Bach, Sinfonia in c minor, BWV 788

It seems to me that laws are ambiguous, but not because language is ambiguous. They are ambiguous because they must be applied to a huge variety of circumstances, often circumstances that the writers of the laws did not or could not foresee. (And sometimes because the people writing the laws don't agree and take refuge in ambiguity.)

Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: amw on June 04, 2019, 02:39:19 PM
How did Brienne of Tarth feel when Jamie Lannister returned to Kings Landing?

Answer 1) She was sad because she loved him and she would be lonely.
Answer 2) She was disappointed because she believed he had redeemed himself, when it turns out he relapsed to his evil ways.

Answer 3) Faure Nocturne No 1.
Answer 4) Bach, Sinfonia in c minor, BWV 788
Of course the showrunners themselves answered that question by providing a musical cue at the point where that event happened. This is arguably the entire purpose of non-diegetic film and television music. (Q: How did Janet Leigh's character feel about being murdered? A: Bernard Herrmann, Psycho (1960), cue no.17) (translated into English it's probably safe to say the meaning of that musical cue is "she experienced negative emotions about her impending death")
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ghost of Baron Scarpia on June 04, 2019, 02:48:50 PM
Of course the showrunners themselves answered that question by providing a musical cue at the point where that event happened. This is arguably the entire purpose of non-diegetic film and television music. (Q: How did Janet Leigh's character feel about being murdered? A: Bernard Herrmann, Psycho (1960), cue no.17) (translated into English it's probably safe to say the meaning of that musical cue is "she experienced negative emotions about her impending death")

I'm at a loss, since I haven't seen the final season of GoT, only read reviews. People seem to disagree about it, nevertheless. What did the music reveal? Choices 1, 2, or maybe that she thought he had a cute butt and she regretted not being able to admire it anymore. :)

Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: amw on June 04, 2019, 02:55:58 PM
I mean I haven't seen any of GoT but if the debate only names emotions that are variants of regret or sadness it seems likely that the background music is prejudicing people's opinions. (Otherwise why not e.g. that she was happy such a toxic person had walked out of her life, or that she was angry with him because he could have done better, etc)
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 04, 2019, 04:40:21 PM
There is a qualitative difference between what music can convey and what language can convey.

Certainly, but the whole argument has been that music cannot convey anything. Certainly that it can’t convey emotion.

As to another part of your post that I haven’t quoted, I’m really not sure that you want to tell a legislative drafter about his own job and I’m certainly not inclined to derail the main conversation any further. Suffice to say that some of the sentences you provided as examples of unambiguous utterances were not as unambiguous as you suppose. Which is no different to how many of my instructors think they’ve sorted everything out right until I ask them curly questions which make them realise they haven’t.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: some guy on June 05, 2019, 12:36:17 AM
I simply don’t get this desire to convert “ambiguous” into “meaningless”.
No one at any time on this thread has ever expressed such a desire, though.

The only time this desire has been mentioned is when someone wants to substitute this idea for the ideas actually being expressed.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 05, 2019, 02:33:41 AM
The only time this desire has been mentioned is when someone wants to substitute this idea for the ideas actually being expressed.

Well, I would agree it's far better when we quote you directly and point out the ambiguities and downright contradictions in your own posts.

But let's just go straight to the heart of the matter: how do you explain the fact that composers repeatedly indicate they have every intention of conveying particular emotions through the titles and written instructions they attach to the score? You blame listeners for importing these notions, but composers do it frequently.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 05, 2019, 03:22:11 AM
You know what we call music that doesn’t elicit reactions? BORING. We turn it off.

Of course. And now that I think of it, the type of music which is

not causing emotional reactions, not expressing emotional states, not telling complicated little stories, just sounding.

fits in the definition of elevator music to a T.



Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ghost of Baron Scarpia on June 05, 2019, 05:25:57 AM
Certainly, but the whole argument has been that music cannot convey anything. Certainly that it can’t convey emotion.

As to another part of your post that I haven’t quoted, I’m really not sure that you want to tell a legislative drafter about his own job and I’m certainly not inclined to derail the main conversation any further. Suffice to say that some of the sentences you provided as examples of unambiguous utterances were not as unambiguous as you suppose. Which is no different to how many of my instructors think they’ve sorted everything out right until I ask them curly questions which make them realise they haven’t.

It can evoke strong emotional responses. It is not my experience that the emotional response I experience is always or even often what the composer intended. I can have different response to the same piece depending on how I approach it. Communicate is too strong, I would say evoke, maybe "convey" is a vague enough term that I could agree to it. Probably because I can attach one meaning to the term while you attach another.

About the legal example, I don't mean to teach you your own business, so much as to give an obvious example I thought you would likely agree with. Let's take a famous bit of text that has roiled my country.

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Is that not deliberately ambiguous? What if I used the same sentence structure, "Helium balloons, being necessarily to the making of a successful party, the right of the people to possess helium, shall not be infringed." Are only party planners guaranteed access to helium? Do the people have an absolute right to posses Helium for any purpose? If so, why add the bit about the party? Why did the framers craft this obtuse sentence that no one can agree on? Why didn't the framers write "the right of the states to maintain armed militias shall not be infringed" or "the right of citizens to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed"? It seems to me that they couldn't agree and they settled on this with the idea that "my descendants will make sure that it gets interpreted right."

For something like a tax code, rather than a constitutional amendment, I think it is often the plethora of situations that causes problems.

"Ok, everyone has to pay 20% of their income."

"What about gifts?"

"Well, gifts are income, so that counts."

"What about gifts from your mother?"

"That doesn't count"

"What if your mother gives you $1 billion"

"Ok, doesn't count if it's less than $10,000"

"What if you buy something and it increases in value, is that income?"

"Not until you sell it"

"What if you get a loan, is that income?"

"No, because you have to pay it back."

"What if you don't pay it back."

"Well, then it's income, I guess."

"How would we know they aren't going to pay it back?"

...

If this goes on long enough you have a 1000 page tax code. It is practically impossible to create a document beyond a certain length that doesn't contradict itself. :)
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on June 05, 2019, 05:50:30 AM
Well, I would agree it's far better when we quote you directly and point out the ambiguities and downright contradictions in your own posts.

But let's just go straight to the heart of the matter: how do you explain the fact that composers repeatedly indicate they have every intention of conveying particular emotions through the titles and written instructions they attach to the score? You blame listeners for importing these notions, but composers do it frequently.

If the music conveyed the emotion on its own, where would the need be for the determinant title?
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on June 05, 2019, 05:52:02 AM
Of course. And now that I think of it, the type of music which is

fits in the definition of elevator music to a T.





That's a heckuva way to talk about Die Kunst der Fuge! :8
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 05, 2019, 05:54:33 AM
If the music conveyed the emotion on its own, where would the need be for the determinant title?

You basically just said that composers are driven to provide titles because they’ve failed.

Who said anything about NEED?
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 05, 2019, 06:01:54 AM
Re the 2nd amendment, firstly I don’t think it’s very ambiguous. I think parts of the sentence have been deliberately ignored in a concerted attempt that took decades to overturn the previous understanding of what it said. The bit about a militia has been thrown out.

Secondly I don’t think any ambiguity is the result of intentional planning but of not very good writing. Frankly the quality of legal drafting in America is shit. Your country has barely adopted the idea that there’s a particular professional skill involved in creating laws and prefers rhetoric.

Edit: From what I’ve heard, your tax code is shit as well. All those questions you’re posing are exactly the sorts of questions that properly written tax code can answer. Please stop trying to describe the scope and operation of laws.   
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 05, 2019, 06:05:48 AM
Re the 2nd amendment, firstly I don’t think it’s very ambiguous. I think parts of the sentence have been deliberately ignored in a concerted attempt that took decades to overturn the previous understanding of what it said. The bit about a militia has been thrown out.

I don't want to derail the thread but I agree with Scarpia: this is a textbook case of ambiguity. What people have the right to bear arms? All people, or only those who belong to a well-regulated militia? There is no way to deduce it unambiguously from the formulation.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 05, 2019, 06:19:33 AM
And yet for the first century courts had no difficulty understanding that one of those interpretations made the mention of militias irrelevant, and therefore was not likely to be the intended meaning.

“Militias. But actually everybody can bear arms for any reason, forget I ever mentioned militias. The militias meant nothing.”

Night.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on June 05, 2019, 06:59:40 AM
You basically just said that composers are driven to provide titles because they’ve failed.

Who said anything about NEED?

I agree: I affix titles to my music because I am a failure as a composer.
Your words are unambiguous.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ghost of Baron Scarpia on June 05, 2019, 07:10:33 AM
Well, I would agree it's far better when we quote you directly and point out the ambiguities and downright contradictions in your own posts.

But let's just go straight to the heart of the matter: how do you explain the fact that composers repeatedly indicate they have every intention of conveying particular emotions through the titles and written instructions they attach to the score? You blame listeners for importing these notions, but composers do it frequently.

I would not deny is not uncommon that composer wants to unburden himself or herself by writing a piece of music that somehow expresses his or her feelings. That doesn't follow that a typical listener will recognize the same feeling. I often find myself having a reaction at variance with the title of a piece, or composers intent as related in the little musicological essays you find in CD booklets. I remember hearing a Mendelssohn string quartet which struck me as fairly tedious pseudo-Mozartian minor key note spinning. Then I read that it was composed to express his overwhelming grief at the death of his sister. Ooops. I didn't get the message.

Oddly it is the "sincere" music that I find ambiguous, not the playful. I've been listening to Poulenc orchestral music and there he is figuratively putting on this mask, then that mask, switching from melodramatic gloom to flippant happiness and back. He is playfully invoking all of the familiar tropes we've learned from all the "serious" music we've been exposed to. The profound music the the ambiguous music.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ghost of Baron Scarpia on June 05, 2019, 07:11:32 AM
That's a heckuva way to talk about Die Kunst der Fuge! :8

Good thing I wasn't drinking my coffee at the moment I read that. :)
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 05, 2019, 08:57:07 AM
That's a heckuva way to talk about Die Kunst der Fuge! :8

Do you imply that you have no emotional reaction whatsoever when listening to it?
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: ritter on June 05, 2019, 10:12:44 AM
I’d say a sensuous reaction, which not necessarily has to be emotional. Why would one’s reaction to, say, listening to the Dumbarton Oaks Concerto have to be different to that of looking at a Braque still life?
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ghost of Baron Scarpia on June 05, 2019, 10:30:44 AM
Do you imply that you have no emotional reaction whatsoever when listening to it?

I have an emotional reaction when I hear the door bell ring. The fact that there is invariably an emotion component to the response to music doesn't prove that transmitting emotion is the sole or primary function of all music.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 05, 2019, 10:43:35 AM
The fact that there is invariably an emotion component to the response to music doesn't prove that transmitting emotion is the sole or primary function of all music.

I don't remember ever making that claim.

Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ghost of Baron Scarpia on June 05, 2019, 10:45:30 AM
You said music "not causing emotional reactions, not expressing emotional states, not telling complicated little stories, just sounding" is the definition of elevator music.

You've convinced me of one thing, I have nothing further to say in this thread.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 05, 2019, 10:48:04 AM
You said music "not causing emotional reactions, not expressing emotional states, not telling complicated little stories, just sounding" is the definition of elevator music.

And I stand by that.

Quote
I have nothing further to say in this thread.

Quite possibly.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ghost of Baron Scarpia on June 05, 2019, 12:28:11 PM
Quite possibly.

Sorry, didn't intend to get snippy.

I still have nothing further to say.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 05, 2019, 11:57:11 PM
But let's just go straight to the heart of the matter: how do you explain the fact that composers repeatedly indicate they have every intention of conveying particular emotions through the titles and written instructions they attach to the score? You blame listeners for importing these notions, but composers do it frequently.

Not only titles and instructions, but also explicit statements, like for instance:

I know well that music is made to speak to the heart of man, and this is what I try to do if I can; Music without feelings and passions is meaningless --- Luigi Boccherini

I compose music because I must give expression to my feelings, just as I talk because I must give utterance to my thoughts. --- Sergei Rachmaninoff

I saved for last what is possibly the most direct and unequivocal rebuttal of some guy's claim:

My music is the expression of emotional states. I have no interest whatever in sound for its own sake --- Arnold Bax

Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: San Antone on June 06, 2019, 02:01:15 AM
I think the people usually making the claim that music has no expressive aspect nor emotional content are fans of atonal or electronic music.  It is kind of like when academics say that really all paintings are non-representational; just paint on canvas.  I just heard this stated in a documentary about Andrew Wyeth, comparing his brush work to Jackson Pollack.

While it may be true that if you focus on one part of a painting, isolated from the context of the overall content, you can see it's just paint on canvas - but that is certainly to see the trees and not the forest.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: amw on June 06, 2019, 03:14:06 AM
I'm a fan of atonal and electronic music but I wouldn't claim that such music has no expressive content—it's often more directly expressive than non-atonal or instrumental music in fact.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: San Antone on June 06, 2019, 05:08:29 AM
I'm a fan of atonal and electronic music but I wouldn't claim that such music has no expressive content—it's often more directly expressive than non-atonal or instrumental music in fact.

At how many funerals have you heard Stockhausen played?
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: amw on June 06, 2019, 07:11:49 AM
I've never heard Penderecki's Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima performed at an actual Hiroshima memorial service but I suspect this is not due to a lack of expressiveness. A funeral-going audience wants to hear something that's sort of sad in a detached way, oratorical but not too personal; they don't necessarily want to hear a more realistic expression of what it is like to die.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ghost of Baron Scarpia on June 06, 2019, 07:32:39 AM
Not only titles and instructions, but also explicit statements, like for instance:

I know well that music is made to speak to the heart of man, and this is what I try to do if I can; Music without feelings and passions is meaningless --- Luigi Boccherini

I compose music because I must give expression to my feelings, just as I talk because I must give utterance to my thoughts. --- Sergei Rachmaninoff

I saved for last what is possibly the most direct and unequivocal rebuttal of some guy's claim:

My music is the expression of emotional states. I have no interest whatever in sound for its own sake --- Arnold Bax

Are we playing dueling quotes here?

Igor Stravinsky:

"For I consider that music is, by its very nature, essentially powerless to express anything at all, whether a feeling, an attitude of mind, a psychological mood, a phenomenon of nature, etc. Expression has never been an inherent property of music. That is by no means the purpose of its existence. If, as is nearly always the case, music appears to express something, this is only an illusion and not a reality. It is simply an additional attribute which, by tacit and inveterate agreement, we have lent it, thrust upon it, as a label, a convention – in short, an aspect which, unconsciously or by force of habit, we have come to confuse with its essential being."

About the Bax, I find the statement very ironic given that I mainly listen to him to enjoy sound for its own sake.  I listen for the sonorities of bewildering beauty with seem to flit by with no structure, sort of an Irish Koechlin.

Probably Stravinsky is much more successful than Bax because he understands that "expression" in music is a parlor trick. He understands that the expression of the composer's oh-so-tender emotions has nothing to do with the success of a piece of music.

Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Clever Hans on June 06, 2019, 07:53:35 AM
I find the distinction between score (composition if you want) and performance most important. What I hear in my mind, while I read a score, is of course not an ideal abstract performance but just my interpretation of the score, which is only one of the many ways the score may be interpreted.

Right, and when a composer puts something to score or in film scoring these days to a piano roll midi notation, they are often trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, because all musical notation is insufficient in capturing an individual interpretation as played or thought by the composer (often not the same thing if the composer is not a good piano player), or it is a bit of a bad and rigid influence, like mensural notation or a modern midi sequencer that requires bandaid solutions like tempo automation.

Composers more often than performers constantly change the way their music should be played in more fundamental ways, like changing the meter, because they are not sure which is best for lines they have written, like once they add percussion and so on. Composers always have the license to do this, but sometimes performers do this very successfully if they are covering or transcribing a piece of music.

The problem of notation is why the expression maps in Cubase and articulation marks are so popular for vst sampled instruments. The composer there is pulled in two ways away from direct communication with the listener of the musical piece from the mind. You have to get the software to get an approximation of human performers so it doesn't sound flat when played back, but then if budget allows you have to adjust the score so it can actually be played by hired human musicians (French horn is a good example), and you are still not really capturing the music as it sounded in your head, you are working within limitations and constantly reminded of them.

Btw hope you are doing well :)
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: San Antone on June 06, 2019, 10:43:19 AM
I've never heard Penderecki's Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima performed at an actual Hiroshima memorial service but I suspect this is not due to a lack of expressiveness. A funeral-going audience wants to hear something that's sort of sad in a detached way, oratorical but not too personal; they don't necessarily want to hear a more realistic expression of what it is like to die.

The title Threnody was applied after the work was written: "Penderecki's stated intent with the composition was to "develop a new musical language". Penderecki later said, "It existed only in my imagination, in a somewhat abstract way." When he heard an actual performance, "I was struck by the emotional charge of the work ... I searched for associations and, in the end, I decided to dedicate it to the Hiroshima victims". (from Wikipedia)

This may be heresy, but regarding music related to the Holocaust, I consider the music to Schindler's List more moving and expressive than the Peenderecki work, which just sounds ugly to me.

Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ghost of Baron Scarpia on June 06, 2019, 11:07:21 AM
At how many funerals have you heard Stockhausen played?

A funeral is not an occasion for listening to music, it is a social occasion in which rituals are practiced, one of which is a certain kind of droning, monotonous, somber music.

I think the people usually making the claim that music has no expressive aspect nor emotional content are fans of atonal or electronic music.  It is kind of like when academics say that really all paintings are non-representational; just paint on canvas.  I just heard this stated in a documentary about Andrew Wyeth, comparing his brush work to Jackson Pollack.

I have not listened to any electronic music, but the originators of atonal music and most of the subsequent practitioners had no desire to avoid an expressive aspect. They wanted to open a new door for "expression," which they felt was needed because common-practice harmony was being driven to its limits. You can argue that they went down a dead end (I wouldn't agree) but I don't think you can really argue that they were not interested in "expression."

And to reiterate my views, expression of extra-musical notions is a common motivation or organizing principal for composer, but I do not view music as any sort of language for communicating extra-musical content. We get to create our own extra-musical experience when we listen to music. What the composer creates is a beautiful assemblage of sound that unfolds in time.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: San Antone on June 06, 2019, 11:25:26 AM
A funeral is not an occasion for listening to music, it is a social occasion in which rituals are practiced, one of which is a certain kind of droning, monotonous, somber music.

You consider the Faure Requiem droning, monotonous, somber music?

I have not listened to any electronic music, but the originators of atonal music and most of the subsequent practitioners had no desire to avoid an expressive aspect. They wanted to open a new door for "expression," which they felt was needed because common-practice harmony was being driven to its limits. You can argue that they went down a dead end (I wouldn't agree) but I don't think you can really argue that they were not interested in "expression."

And to reiterate my views, expression of extra-musical notions is a common motivation or organizing principal for composer, but I do not view music as any sort of language for communicating extra-musical content.


I don't know what were the thoughts about emotion/expression in music of the creators of atonal music - but I don't think many people have the same kind of emotional response to atonal music as they do with tonal music.  I know I don't.  Atonal music might be interesting on a cerebral level, but it sure doesn't move me like the Rach PC2, or the Mozart Requiem, or any number of other tonal works of remarkable expressive qualities.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ghost of Baron Scarpia on June 06, 2019, 11:35:35 AM
You consider the Faure Requiem droning, monotonous, somber music?

I've never heard the Faure Requiem.

And I've never heard a Requiem performed at a funeral. Maybe it would have been in past times at the funeral of a prince. Every funeral I've attended was accompanied by dreary hymns. The one time I heard enjoyable music at a funeral was after the Oklahoma City bombing and the orchestra played Ravel's 'Pavane pour un infante defunto'. Then, hymns.

Quote
I don't know what were the thoughts about emotion/expression in music of the creators of atonal music - but I don't think many people have the same kind of emotional response to atonal music as they do with tonal music.  I know I don't.  Atonal music might be interesting on a cerebral level, but it sure doesn't move me like the Rach PC2, or the Mozart Requiem, or any number of other tonal works of remarkable expressive qualities.

No, not the same kind of emotional response, but a strong and satisfying one nonetheless. I don't get the same kind of emotional response from Bruckner as from Ravel, from Schumann as from Mozart, from Sibelius as from Bach. Variety is the spice of life.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 06, 2019, 12:30:24 PM
I still have nothing further to say.

You were obviously wrong.  :D
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 06, 2019, 12:34:14 PM
Igor Stravinsky:

"For I consider that music is, by its very nature, essentially powerless to express anything at all, whether a feeling, an attitude of mind, a psychological mood, a phenomenon of nature, etc. Expression has never been an inherent property of music. That is by no means the purpose of its existence. If, as is nearly always the case, music appears to express something, this is only an illusion and not a reality. It is simply an additional attribute which, by tacit and inveterate agreement, we have lent it, thrust upon it, as a label, a convention – in short, an aspect which, unconsciously or by force of habit, we have come to confuse with its essential being."

Says the guy who composed The Rite of Spring, Petrushka and The Firebird.  ;D

Imo, this is one of the stupidest statement ever made about music --- provided he said it seriously, which I doubt.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 06, 2019, 12:49:19 PM
And to reiterate my views, expression of extra-musical notions is a common motivation or organizing principal for composer, but I do not view music as any sort of language for communicating extra-musical content. We get to create our own extra-musical experience when we listen to music. What the composer creates is a beautiful assemblage of sound that unfolds in time.

Your view is that composers have no clue what they are doing and fail in their goals, but you enjoy the results anyway.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 06, 2019, 12:52:03 PM
And of course, the most enjoyable failures become really famous!  ::)

Isn’t it an amazing coincidence how some of these people who had completely the wrong idea about what they were doing managed to be so CONSISTENT in producing enjoyable results?

I mean, what are the chances? You’d think that when you were aiming for the wrong thing entirely it’d be unlikely to hit the correct target over and over again.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 06, 2019, 12:56:53 PM
Your view is that composers have no clue what they are doing and fail in their goals, but you enjoy the results anyway.

 ;D
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 06, 2019, 01:10:33 PM
The irony of course is that I suspect this conversation is foundering on a different definition of the word “communicate”.

Written language, that great supposed bastion of precision, is failing us because only one of the writers thinks that “communicate” necessarily connotes something precise.

Perhaps, it is acknowledged, it overlaps in meaning with “convey”, but then we get to “evoke” and we definitely aren’t communicating anymore. We’re just sort of firing linguistic pheromones into the air at that point.

That might not be the best way of, ahem, EXPRESSING it. My communication is being rather vague.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ghost of Baron Scarpia on June 06, 2019, 01:10:38 PM
Your view is that composers have no clue what they are doing and fail in their goals, but you enjoy the results anyway.

You know that is not my view and I don't think these confrontational and disingenuous rebuttals further the discussion.

If a composer's goal is restricted to making me experience an emotional state which is a mirror of the emotional state that they baked in to the piece, yes you can claim that is a failure. I would say they have created something of great beauty which gives listeners pleasure and allows listeners make to make their own rich emotional associations with the music (which may or may not be what the composer intended) and I define this as success.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 06, 2019, 01:14:59 PM
Sir, there is nothing disingenuous about my rebuttal.

I am quite genuinely trying to get you to think about why you believe that you understand the purpose of music better than some of the people who created music and became very famous by doing so.

Because I always assumed it had something to do with the quality of their work.

And I find it hard to believe that it’s possible to create high quality work while not actually understanding what the desired outcome is.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ken B on June 06, 2019, 01:21:49 PM
You were obviously wrong.  :D

Not so clear.  >:D
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ghost of Baron Scarpia on June 06, 2019, 01:22:02 PM
I am quite genuinely trying to get you to think about why you believe that you understand the purpose of music better than some of the people who created music and became very famous by doing so.

I agree with other people who created music and became equally famous by doing so, so I can ask the same question of you.

Great artists, such as the composers we are discussing, are by nature megalomaniacs who think they are the center of the universe. I don't necessarily take them at their word as to the nature of what they have done and their place in the grand scheme of things.

Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 06, 2019, 01:28:17 PM
Frankly I think part of the issue here is that you start from the premise that the listener is always right.

Because that is not a view I share.

I don’t mean that there’s right or wrong in terms of whether you enjoy a piece or not. But I certainly do think there is right or wrong in terms of understanding.

And not just with music. I don’t subscribe to the view that when a listener or reader doesn’t get what a speaker or writer is trying to COMMUNICATE, everything is tickety-boo.

It certainly is interesting that when I respond to you but you don’t think I’m reflecting back what you said, you jump to the conclusion that I do know what you meant but am writing a disingenuous response. It doesn’t occur to you that I’m indicating the essence of what I heard you say, because you work from different premises about ho the process from sender to receiver works.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 06, 2019, 01:30:22 PM
Great artists, such as the composers we are discussing, are by nature megalomaniacs who think they are the center of the universe.

Nonsense on stilts. Otomh, Bach, Haydn, Schubert, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Enescu all give the lie to this bullshit.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 06, 2019, 01:32:07 PM
Frankly I think part of the issue here is that you start from the premise that the listener is always right.

Because that is not a view I share.

I don’t mean that there’s right or wrong in terms of whether you enjoy a piece or not. But I certainly do think there is right or wrong in terms of understanding.

And not just with music. I don’t subscribe to the view that when a listener or reader doesn’t get what a speaker or writer is trying to COMMUNICATE, everything is tickety-boo.

+ 1.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 06, 2019, 01:33:50 PM
I agree with other people who created music and became equally famous by doing so, so I can ask the same question of you.

Great artists, such as the composers we are discussing, are by nature megalomaniacs who think they are the center of the universe. I don't necessarily take them at their word as to the nature of what they have done and their place in the grand scheme of things.

But I can answer the question quite easily. I freely accept that there are composers who have no intention of expressing emotional content in their work.

As the 20th Century progresses the listening audience left them in droves of course.

Edit: And I say this as a person who doesn’t LIKE composers who seem to just want to spill their emotional guts all over the floor, without focusing on form and structure and all those things. I’m not wild about program music. 
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 06, 2019, 01:35:31 PM
I freely accept that there are composers who have no intention of expressing emotional content in their work.

As the 20th Century progresses the listening audience left them in droves of course.

Hear, hear!
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ghost of Baron Scarpia on June 06, 2019, 01:39:20 PM
Frankly I think part of the issue here is that you start from the premise that the listener is always right.

Because that is not a view I share.

I don’t mean that there’s right or wrong in terms of whether you enjoy a piece or not. But I certainly do think there is right or wrong in terms of understanding.

And not just with music. I don’t subscribe to the view that when a listener or reader doesn’t get what a speaker or writer is trying to COMMUNICATE, everything is tickety-boo.

It certainly is interesting that when I respond to you but you don’t think I’m reflecting back what you said, you jump to the conclusion that I do know what you meant but am writing a disingenuous response. It doesn’t occur to you that I’m indicating the essence of what I heard you say, because you work from different premises about ho the process from sender to receiver works.

Clearly I am dependent on my own reactions in forming my view, but I also notice that different people listening to the same piece of music express widely varying views as the the "meaning" conveyed by a piece of music.

Perhaps I am out of line by bring up what you describe as a favorite piece of music, but what of Faure's Barcarolle No 5. The last time I sat down with it I had to listen to it at least a half a dozen times in a row. I was hypnotized, I had to hear it again and again because I kept hearing different things in it. What did it communicate? Was it sad, was it angry, was it sensuous, was it content, was it bitter, was it tragic, I don't know. It didn't communicate anything to me, other than that it is good to be alive and experience this. If Faure wanted to communicate something more specific than that, it was a "failure." I don't feel it was a failure.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 06, 2019, 01:43:34 PM
Nonsense on stilts. Otomh, Bach, Haydn, Schubert, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Enescu all give the lie to this bullshit.

Yes. Again, I happily accept that some composers were megalomaniacs. Or just attention getters (honestly, I think Stravinsky practised saying 5 provocative things before breakfast).

But the proposition that all of them have the same traits? No. And casting doubt on the quality of quotes is terribly convenient AFTER participating in a quote exchange.

In any case, I was not part of the quote exchange. What I cited was the titles and performance instructions placed in musical scores.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ghost of Baron Scarpia on June 06, 2019, 01:45:54 PM
But I can answer the question quite easily. I freely accept that there are composers who have no intention of expressing emotional content in their work.

As the 20th Century progresses the listening audience left them in droves of course.

That is not what I mean. If you look at the Stravinsky Quote, he acknowledges that listeners typically have an emotional response to music, but that he believe this is not an intrinsic property of the music. I think Stravinsky's views are more or less my own, and I don't think that audiences left him "in droves."
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 06, 2019, 01:46:33 PM
Was it sad, was it angry, was it sensuous, was it content, was it bitter, was it tragic, I don't know.

Let me point out that of the six attributes you mentioned, four (sad, angry, bitter and tragic) are actually quite consistent with each other. Coincidence?
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: San Antone on June 06, 2019, 01:49:35 PM
I've never heard the Faure Requiem.

And I've never heard a Requiem performed at a funeral. Maybe it would have been in past times at the funeral of a prince. Every funeral I've attended was accompanied by dreary hymns. The one time I heard enjoyable music at a funeral was after the Oklahoma City bombing and the orchestra played Ravel's 'Pavane pour un infante defunto'. Then, hymns.

No, not the same kind of emotional response, but a strong and satisfying one nonetheless. I don't get the same kind of emotional response from Bruckner as from Ravel, from Schumann as from Mozart, from Sibelius as from Bach. Variety is the spice of life.

The Pie Jesu from the Faure Requiem is performed somewhat often at funerals.  Well, we are different in that I get no emotional response to atonal music - but that doesn't mean I don't find some of it interesting enough to say I like it. Schoenberg's solo piano music for instance.

Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 06, 2019, 01:50:58 PM
Clearly I am dependent on my own reactions in forming my view, but I also notice that different people listening to the same piece of music express widely varying views as the the "meaning" conveyed by a piece of music.

Perhaps I am out of line by bring up what you describe as a favorite piece of music, but what of Faure's Barcarolle No 5. The last time I sat down with it I had to listen to it at least a half a dozen times in a row. I was hypnotized, I had to hear it again and again because I kept hearing different things in it. What did it communicate? Was it sad, was it angry, was it sensuous, was it content, was it bitter, was it tragic, I don't know. It didn't (http://communicate) anything to me, other than that it is good to be alive and experience this. If Faure wanted to communicate something more specific than that, it was a "failure." I don't feel it was a failure.
Again, you’re working from a notion of equal and opposite that doesn’t work.

I’m not claiming that every piece of music is dripping with emotional content. I’m refuting the claim that NO piece of music has ANY emotional content.

The opposite of empty is not full to the brim. The opposite of a proposition that there are no fish in the sea is not that the sea is made of fish.

I would gladly spend some time trying to formulate what I hear in Barcarolle No.5, but it could take me hours I don’t have and I probably would take weeks to be remotely happy with what I wrote. All I have time to do right now is point out that my whole concern with this thread is to refute a negative proposition that there is NOTHING there in music GENERALLY.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ken B on June 06, 2019, 01:53:11 PM
As for the Threnody...

I think the common reaction to suffering is the wish it would stop. This is what makes Penderecki's piece so apt, as provoking so forcefully this exact feeling.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 06, 2019, 01:56:07 PM
I’m not claiming that every piece of music is dripping with emotional content. I’m refuting the claim that NO piece of music has ANY emotional content.

The opposite of empty is not full to the brim. The opposite of a proposition that there are no fish in the sea is not that the sea is made of fish.

It's as simple as that, actually.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 06, 2019, 01:56:38 PM
As for the Threnody...

I think the common reaction to suffering is the wish it would stop. This is what makes Penderecki's piece so apt, as provoking so forcefully this exact feeling.

 :D :D :D
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 06, 2019, 02:12:04 PM
That is not what I mean. If you look at the Stravinsky Quote, he acknowledges that listeners typically have an emotional response to music, but that he believe this is not an intrinsic property of the music. I think Stravinsky's views are more or less my own, and I don't think that audiences left him "in droves."

One brief thought before I have to go.

Really? You want to pick Stravinsky for this?

His 3 most popular pieces by far are The Firebird, Petrushka and The Rite of Spring. Just saying.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ghost of Baron Scarpia on June 06, 2019, 02:21:24 PM
I would gladly spend some time trying to formulate what I hear in Barcarolle No.5, but it could take me hours I don’t have and I probably would take weeks to be remotely happy with what I wrote. All I have time to do right now is point out that my whole concern with this thread is to refute a negative proposition that there is NOTHING there in music GENERALLY.

My experience is that "emotional content" would be a pale shadow of what music actually "communicates," or "conveys," or "evokes." I would say that experiencing a great piece of music is more like standing at the summit of a mountain and looking out across the range. There is no emotional content (except awe). It is a unique, irreplaceable experience. Walking through a forest under a canopy of trees is another experience. Standing on the sea shore as waves crash on rocks is another experience. I find great music is a unique experience that is not relatable to other types of experience. It doesn't convey "nothing" it conveys is what it is. I don't find the "emotional" content to touch the essence of it.

Of course, this is my own experience of music.

Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: some guy on June 06, 2019, 11:00:43 PM
...my whole concern with this thread is to refute a negative proposition that there is NOTHING there in music GENERALLY.
You do seem able to articulate precisely where you go wrong, without any sense (any sense that you'd admit) that you realize how precisely you have articulated where you go wrong.

No one anywhere on this thread (except maybe a couple of digs at "atonal" music) has anyone made the negative proposition that there is nothing there in music generally. I would venture to guess (since it would be impossible to prove) that no one anywhere has ever made this proposition. It's a silly proposition on the face of it, and my concern right now is why you are so concerned with something that doesn't exist--or that exists only as your distortion of what has actually been said.

My own proposition, if you would do me the favor of at least trying to understand, is that music is full, full of musical things. What it's not full of is any particular listener's individual emotion response to it. As indeed, how could it be? No composer knows what each individual listener will be getting out of any particular piece he or she may write. As a human, and therefore an emotional creature, a composer may feel emotions when writing a particular piece. Indeed, it would be very odd if that weren't so. Some composers may then go on to give titles to their pieces which indicate their own emotional responses to what they've done, titles and interpretive indications as well. But those titles and those indications are not music. They are language, which is a very different kind of thing. And the idea, just by the way, that entitling a piece is somehow an admission of failure is just not on. What a silly notion that is, as well. Music communicates, if it communicates anything, musical ideas. And we struggle to articulate those musical ideas in language. But language, while having many, many musical attributes (sound, dynamics, rhythm and so forth) is a quite different thing from music and any attempt to translate musical meaning into linguistic meaning will be just exactly that, a translation. And, as I pointed out before, different people report different things about the same piece. This does not mean that the composer has failed in any way. It means that the whole business of translating has failed.

You want to understand what Xenakis' Pithoprakta means? Listen to Xenakis' Pithoprakta, then. But we're not very good at understanding musical meanings, are we? Much more comfortable with linguistic meanings. So in our attempt to "understand" Xenakis' Pithoprakta, we often turn to what people have written about it. And then, because we are humans and quite naturally comfortable with language, we may feel that now we understand Xenakis' Pithoprakta. Well, we certainly understand words and how words (and phrases and sentences) mean. Indeed, meaning for humans is almost always a matter of how well some non-linguistic reality has been able to be conveyed by language--or, rather, how well the language sounds qua language. Does it make sense as language? Then it makes sense.

One thing I'd like to try to get across, with language, is the idea that meaning and sense are not concepts confined to language. That other things, music for example, also "mean," also "make sense," even if those meanings and senses are not articulable with language. Or, rather, if the meanings and senses articulated by language differ wildly from each other. Because one report, in language, differs from another report, also in language, about the same piece does not mean that the piece has somehow failed. It means, as someone somewhere has already pointed out, that the whole business of translating has failed.

Don't keep making this mistake, Madiel. Music is full. Full and overflowing. Not only a sufficiency but a plenitude. The claim that a bucket full of raspberries is not full of sand is NOT to claim, as you keep insisting, that the bucket is empty.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: San Antone on June 07, 2019, 12:49:50 AM
But, some guy, the fact remains that many, many people get more than musical ideas from listening to music.  That not everyone gets the same emotional things from hearing the same piece is neither here nor there - many, (most?) people get something other than musical ideas.

Now it is clearly true for you that you do not wish to deal with that.  You wish to act as if those people are imagining their response to the music. But for them, myself included, music offers other things than musical content (a phrase which is pretty vague, if you ask me).  What exactly is musical content?

I know for a fact that when I hear the William Walton short work from his score for Henry V "Touch Her Soft Lips and Part" I have an strong emotional response: yearning, a sense of bittersweet sadness, but it doesn't make me sad,  experiencing it is very enjoyable; it is one of my most favorite musical miniatures.

Why does it bother you that other listeners do not react to music as you do?

https://www.youtube.com/v/3cAoq4bIiwg

The fact that music has the ability to cause emotional reactions in listeners is so obvious as to make this discussion silly.  If it were not true that music offers more than "musical content" then films would not utilize music as part of their presentation.  The film's soundtrack adds a significant aspect to the movie's emotional power, and a specific kind of music is written by a composer for that purpose. 
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: some guy on June 07, 2019, 01:32:21 AM
But San Antone, this thread's initial premise is that many people get more than musical ideas from listening to music.

My only contribution was to offer the suggestion that the musical ideas are sufficient. That you don't need, as I put it then, to turn music into something else (philosophy, autobiography, history, narrative) in order to have a fully satisfying experience with it. Not that you can't. Not even that you shouldn't (so no, this is none of it about me being bothered by people reacting to music differently from how I do). Simply that you needn't.

It seems that the force of bothersomeness is all on the other side, actually: that you must react as Madiel or Florestan or whomever and if you don't react that way, then you are basically saying by your actions if not also your words that music is empty. Which is bollocks.

Additionally, that music can be used in movies, that some scores are made explicitly to underscore messages already being given by the acting and the script (and the lighting and the camera angles and so on) is really neither here nor there. Visual art can be used as propaganda, but that doesn't mean that the only or the most important or most natural or best use of art is to propagandize. That is, "can be" is quite different from "should be." And what I keep hearing, over and over again, is that music should be used to create emotions, that its chief purpose is to create or at least to elicit emotions. Well, yeah, music does do that, but so do puppies and so do thunderstorms.

And, finally, I really don't understand how a proposal, how a suggestion, gets turned so frequently, so inevitably into a diktat. I guess it's easier to deal with that way, but still....
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: ritter on June 07, 2019, 01:42:44 AM
....

I know for a fact that when I hear the William Walton short work from his score for Henry V "Touch Her Soft Lips and Part" I have an strong emotional response: yearning, a sense of bittersweet sadness, but it doesn't make me sad,  experiencing it is very enjoyable; it is one of my most favorite musical miniatures.

...
https://www.youtube.com/v/3cAoq4bIiwg

An excellent example, San Antone, and one that actually came to  my mind before you posted this. Still, in my case, the reaction is not "emotional" as you describe it; it is simply an aprreciation of the intrinsic beauty of this music.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 07, 2019, 03:47:17 AM
My experience is that "emotional content" would be a pale shadow of what music actually "communicates," or "conveys," or "evokes." I would say that experiencing a great piece of music is more like standing at the summit of a mountain and looking out across the range. There is no emotional content (except awe). It is a unique, irreplaceable experience. Walking through a forest under a canopy of trees is another experience. Standing on the sea shore as waves crash on rocks is another experience. I find great music is a unique experience that is not relatable to other types of experience. It doesn't convey "nothing" it conveys is what it is. I don't find the "emotional" content to touch the essence of it.

Of course, this is my own experience of music.

You contradict yourself, because first you said that

I don't get the same kind of emotional response from Bruckner as from Ravel, from Schumann as from Mozart, from Sibelius as from Bach. Variety is the spice of life.

and now you say that no, actually you have only one single emotional response to them all, namely awe.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 07, 2019, 04:02:56 AM
It seems that the force of bothersomeness is all on the other side, actually: that you must react as Madiel or Florestan or whomever and if you don't react that way, then you are basically saying by your actions if not also your words that music is empty. Which is bollocks.

What is indeed bollocks is your twisting Madiel's, and yours truly, words and ideas and turning them on their head.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: San Antone on June 07, 2019, 04:24:57 AM
But San Antone, this thread's initial premise is that many people get more than musical ideas from listening to music.

My only contribution was to offer the suggestion that the musical ideas are sufficient. That you don't need, as I put it then, to turn music into something else (philosophy, autobiography, history, narrative) in order to have a fully satisfying experience with it. Not that you can't. Not even that you shouldn't (so no, this is none of it about me being bothered by people reacting to music differently from how I do). Simply that you needn't.

Do you think it denigrates the music for some of us to sense some emotional aspect to a piece of music? 

It happens automatically, when I hear music it might strike me one way or another; I may feel some emotion or not; I might react to the sounds positively or negatively or somewhere in between, and the next time I hear the same music it could all be different.  I am certainly not imposing anything on the music as it enters my brain.  It isn't a question of what kind of response is necessary, what it boils down to is that I (and I assume others) simply react to the music without any conscious act on my part.  I don't think to myself, I want to hear some music that is bittersweetly sad, oh, I'll listen to that Walton thing.  No, I just love the sound of his music, it is tenderly beautiful in a way that is unique to itself.  But while I am listening to it I also sense that the music is trying to convey some feeling, and I don't know how it was used in the film, but would guess at a moment when a lover has gone or a relationship has ended.  No anger, nothing negative, just a realization that someone you still love will no longer be in your life. 

Finally, will you explain to me what you mean by "musical ideas" or "musical things" or "musical content" that one is supposed to experience instead of what you consider extra-musical content?
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 07, 2019, 04:55:43 AM
According to our esteemed fellow GMG-er Mandryka, here are three emotional reactions to Bach's cello suites, by three world-class cellists:

Rostropovich:

g maj: innocent and childlike
d min: hurt and sorrowful like a teenager poet
c maj: a swaggering crown prince
e flat maj: a philosopher peering into the depths
c min: melancholy
d maj: innocence regained


Casals:

g maj: optimistic
d min: tragic
c maj: heroic
e flat maj: grandiose
c min: tempestuous
d maj: bucolic


Ma:

g maj: nature at play
d min: journey to light
c maj: celebration
e flat maj: building
c min: struggles for hope
d maj: epiphany


Well, let's see what we have:

g maj: innocent and childlike / optimistic / nature at play --- Fairly consistent or at least not mutually exclusive.

d min: hurt and sorrowful like a teenager poet / tragic / journey to light ---  The first two, fairly consistent or at least not mutually exclusive; the third, radically different than the others.

c maj: a swaggering crown prince /  heroic / celebration --- Fairly consistent or at least not mutually exclusive.

e flat maj: a philosopher peering into the depths / grandiose / building --- Fairly consistent or at least nothing mutually exclusive (one can build a grandiose philosophical system)

c min: melancholy / tempestuous / struggles for hope --- The first radically different than the others, the other two fairly consistent or at least not mutually exclusive (can struggles for hope be anything else than tempestuous?)

d maj: innocence regained / bucolic / epiphany --- Fairly consistent or at least not mutually exclusive.

Summary: Three world-class musicians, with three different backgrounds, are mostly in agreement about their emotional reactions to Bach's cello suites; the radically different reactions are few and far between. (And we should take into account the very important fact that this happens with respect to scores which contains no musical indications whatsoever other than titles, let alone extramusical indications or titles).

Conclusion: Music, even when presented without any explicit extramusical title or indication whatsoever, does ellicit from seasoned musicians (ie people deeply immersed and versed in what music is and how it works) fairly consistent emotional reactions.

Now, come Scarpia and some guy and tell us that it's all a figment of their imagination and that there's nothing in those cello suites other than a combination of sounds for its own sake.

(Source: http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,21492.msg1218951.html#msg1218951 (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,21492.msg1218951.html#msg1218951))
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 07, 2019, 05:13:21 AM
You do seem able to articulate precisely where you go wrong, without any sense (any sense that you'd admit) that you realize how precisely you have articulated where you go wrong.

No one anywhere on this thread (except maybe a couple of digs at "atonal" music) has anyone made the negative proposition that there is nothing there in music generally. I would venture to guess (since it would be impossible to prove) that no one anywhere has ever made this proposition. It's a silly proposition on the face of it, and my concern right now is why you are so concerned with something that doesn't exist--or that exists only as your distortion of what has actually been said.

My own proposition, if you would do me the favor of at least trying to understand, is that music is full, full of musical things. What it's not full of is any particular listener's individual emotion response to it. As indeed, how could it be? No composer knows what each individual listener will be getting out of any particular piece he or she may write. As a human, and therefore an emotional creature, a composer may feel emotions when writing a particular piece. Indeed, it would be very odd if that weren't so. Some composers may then go on to give titles to their pieces which indicate their own emotional responses to what they've done, titles and interpretive indications as well. But those titles and those indications are not music. They are language, which is a very different kind of thing. And the idea, just by the way, that entitling a piece is somehow an admission of failure is just not on. What a silly notion that is, as well. Music communicates, if it communicates anything, musical ideas. And we struggle to articulate those musical ideas in language. But language, while having many, many musical attributes (sound, dynamics, rhythm and so forth) is a quite different thing from music and any attempt to translate musical meaning into linguistic meaning will be just exactly that, a translation. And, as I pointed out before, different people report different things about the same piece. This does not mean that the composer has failed in any way. It means that the whole business of translating has failed.

You want to understand what Xenakis' Pithoprakta means? Listen to Xenakis' Pithoprakta, then. But we're not very good at understanding musical meanings, are we? Much more comfortable with linguistic meanings. So in our attempt to "understand" Xenakis' Pithoprakta, we often turn to what people have written about it. And then, because we are humans and quite naturally comfortable with language, we may feel that now we understand Xenakis' Pithoprakta. Well, we certainly understand words and how words (and phrases and sentences) mean. Indeed, meaning for humans is almost always a matter of how well some non-linguistic reality has been able to be conveyed by language--or, rather, how well the language sounds qua language. Does it make sense as language? Then it makes sense.

One thing I'd like to try to get across, with language, is the idea that meaning and sense are not concepts confined to language. That other things, music for example, also "mean," also "make sense," even if those meanings and senses are not articulable with language. Or, rather, if the meanings and senses articulated by language differ wildly from each other. Because one report, in language, differs from another report, also in language, about the same piece does not mean that the piece has somehow failed. It means, as someone somewhere has already pointed out, that the whole business of translating has failed.

Don't keep making this mistake, Madiel. Music is full. Full and overflowing. Not only a sufficiency but a plenitude. The claim that a bucket full of raspberries is not full of sand is NOT to claim, as you keep insisting, that the bucket is empty.

Your insistence on lifting one sentence of mine out of context and treating it literally, as if “nothing” was a general comment about music rather than ABOUT EMOTION IN MUSIC, is just stupid.

Seriously, it’s just stupid. Congratulations on setting up a straw man that you can knock down. You must be so proud.

I won’t go into all the reasons that natural writing employs narrative shorthand, but you just took the shorthand and ignored the abundant evidence that it WAS shorthand. Not once, not ONCE did I suggest that music did not contain the musical ideas you describe. The entire debate has been about the assertion that it contains NOTHING ELSE. NOT THAT IT CONTAINS NOTHING AT ALL, BUT NOTHING ELSE.

The conversation with GBS was worth my time. A conversation with you simply isn’t.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 07, 2019, 05:23:29 AM
Honestly, if you want to spend your time admiring the dead butterflies you’ve pinned down so that you can admire their wing structure, go ahead. If it makes you happy.

Just stop this habit of setting up threads to lament how so many people insist on talking about the pleasure they get from imagining the butterflies fluttering about.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ken B on June 07, 2019, 05:35:05 AM
Honestly, if you want to spend your time admiring the dead butterflies you’ve pinned down so that you can admire their wing structure, go ahead. If it makes you happy.

Just stop this habit of setting up threads to lament how so many people insist on talking about the pleasure they get from imagining the butterflies fluttering about.

Nicely put.
Of course I am one of those who believes we have emotional reactions to words, that words can convey things, so I might be prejudiced. If “prejudiced” had meaning.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 07, 2019, 05:40:03 AM
For anyone else, all this talk about beauty and awe is all very well given that much music indeed beautiful or awesome.

But it does leave me wondering exactly the scope of the music being listened to. Haydn for instance. Haydn is damn funny. He’s got a string quartet nicknamed the Joke because it makes audiences laugh so regularly at the false ending, which is undoubtedly set up using musical objects and aural signposts, but to what purpose?

He wrote a sharp forte in the Surprise Symphony to make the ladies jump. Clever. I would say funny. Beautiful? Hmm. It actually disrupts the kind of formal static beauty. It’s putting a bit of cheeky graffiti on one column in a colonnade.

And what of the infamous bassoon fart? Quite brilliant in my view. But I rather think that awe and wonder and admiration of beauty were not the reactions he was going for.

Of course, not everyone laughs at any given joke. But surely that doesn’t involve concluding that the joke teller wasn’t trying to be funny.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 07, 2019, 05:44:54 AM
Nicely put.
Of course I am one of those who believes we have emotional reactions to words, that words can convey things, so I might be prejudiced. If “prejudiced” had meaning.

Let's see. "Prejudiced" is actually nothing more than a combination of letters. In different languages it sounds different (Even at the point of a gun I couldn't spell the Romanian pronounciation of this particular combination of sounds for an Englishman to pronounce it the same way; you have to hear me pronouncing it in order to pronounce it yourself,). Ergo, any meaning different people who hear it pronounced might attach to it are not intrinsic to the word itself.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Mandryka on June 07, 2019, 05:45:33 AM
.

My only contribution was to offer the suggestion that the musical ideas are sufficient. That you don't need, as I put it then, to turn music into something else (philosophy, autobiography, history, narrative) in order to have a fully satisfying experience with it. Not that you can't. Not even that you shouldn't (so no, this is none of it about me being bothered by people reacting to music differently from how I do). Simply that you needn't.






If you have access it may be worth looking at the physiological research on this. I mention it because I used to know someone who was a schizophrenic, and one medication he was given made him (he reported) unable to respond emotionally to music - but if I remember rightly it didn’t stop him listening to music.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 07, 2019, 05:46:37 AM
For anyone else, all this talk about beauty and awe is all very well given that much music indeed beautiful or awesome.

But it does leave me wondering exactly the scope of the music being listened to. Haydn for instance. Haydn is damn funny. He’s got a string quartet nicknamed the Joke because it makes audiences laugh so regularly at the false ending, which is undoubtedly set up using musical objects and aural signposts, but to what purpose?

He wrote a sharp forte in the Surprise Symphony to make the ladies jump. Clever. I would say funny. Beautiful? Hmm. It actually disrupts the kind of formal static beauty. It’s putting a bit of cheeky graffiti on one column in a colonnade.

And what of the infamous bassoon fart? Quite brilliant in my view. But I rather think that awe and wonder and admiration of beauty were not the reactions he was going for.

Of course, not everyone laughs at any given joke. But surely that doesn’t involve concluding that the joke teller wasn’t trying to be funny.

Amen, brother, amen!
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 07, 2019, 05:52:29 AM
I’m also continuing to wonder about the point of any stage or film music. Whether it’s incidental music for a play, or a ballet, an opera, a film score...

I don’t buy any notion that because it is programmatic in some sense it moves into a different category where all the emotion can be attributed to the other elements of the overall work. The facts are (1) the music is there precisely because it’s seen to enhance and amplify the other material, and (2) stage music uses exactly the same basic musical components as any other kind of music.

The second point is crucial. The musical elements used in these kinds of descriptive and narrative forms of art are exactly the same elements used in “absolute” music. 12 notes, scales, dynamics, tempi, instruments, harmony... the form is different but the basic grammar of Western stage music is exactly the same as of Western stand-alone music. And often both are created by the same composers.

So it’s not possible to separate it out in terms of basic musical content. And any theory of the nature of music has to explain WHY music is added to these art forms.

And now I really must go to bed.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 07, 2019, 06:54:45 AM
Frankly, I don't see the point of this crusade against emotions and feelings being expressed by, and in, music. Are feelings and emotions not part and parcel of human existence and experience? Last time I checked, a human being that can neither experience, nor express, any feeling or emotion is the object of psychopathology. Are they inferior to intelligence and reasoning? Last time I checked, some of the greatest works of art appeal rather to feelings and emotions than intelligence and reasoning (like for instance Michelangelo's Pieta or Poe's The Raven or Pergolesi's Stabat Mater). I even dare say that in the most crucial moments of a human being's life it's precisely feelings and emotions that take precedence over intelligence and reasoning. Let the most cold-blooded and intellectual person face the death of his/her mother, father or child, or being told s/he's got terminal cancer and is going to die within one year time, or suddenly discovering that the husband/wife is unfaithful to them --- and let's then see if there is any amount of intelligent talk and rational thought that can console them on the spot.

As far as I'm concerned, I fully subscribe to Bernard Berenson's dictum:

Not what man knows but what man feels, concerns art. All else is science.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ken B on June 07, 2019, 07:33:48 AM
Frankly, I don't see the point of this crusade against emotions and feelings being expressed by, and in, music. Are feelings and emotions not part and parcel of human existence and experience? Last time I checked, a human being that can neither experience, nor express, any feeling or emotion is the object of psychopathology. Are they inferior to intelligence and reasoning? Last time I checked, some of the greatest works of art appeal rather to feelings and emotions than intelligence and reasoning (like for instance Michelangelo's Pieta or Poe's The Raven or Pergolesi's Stabat Mater). I even dare say that in the most crucial moments of a human being's life it's precisely feelings and emotions that take precedence over intelligence and reasoning. Let the most cold-blooded and intellectual person face the death of his/her mother, father or child, or being told s/he's got terminal cancer and is going to die within one year time, or suddenly discovering that the husband/wife is unfaithful to them --- and let's then see if there is any amount of intelligent talk and rational thought that can console them on the spot.

As far as I'm concerned, I fully subscribe to Bernard Berenson's dictum:

Not what man knows but what man feels, concerns art. All else is science.

It's lower class. Lots of odious things are lower class: patriotism, religious belief, a preference for representational art, a fondness for plot, family, humility.
The lower class
Sucks ass!
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 07, 2019, 07:35:56 AM
It's lower class. Lots of odious things are lower class: patriotism, religious belief, a preference for representational art, a fondness for plot, family, humility.
The lower class
Sucks ass!

You really want to get me started, with the sole purpose of having a true and genuine Romanian hate monger to showcase, don't you?  >:D
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ken B on June 07, 2019, 11:36:32 AM
You really want to get me started, with the sole purpose of having a true and genuine Romanian hate monger to showcase, don't you?  >:D
There is actually considerable research. More lower class traits: emotional intelligence, honesty, generosity, waiting at crosswalks. It's really hard not to see them as deplorables.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: San Antone on June 07, 2019, 11:48:45 AM
I'm still trying to figure out what are the "musical ideas" that some guy is listening to. It reminds me of a cartoon I saw in a recording studio in Nashville: two farmers are standing at a fence.  One asks the other, "What did you think of that snare sound on Reba's last record?"
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ghost of Baron Scarpia on June 07, 2019, 11:53:47 AM
I'm still trying to figure out what are the "musical ideas" that some guy is listening to. It reminds me of a cartoon I saw in a recording studio in Nashville: two farmers are standing at a fence.  One asks the other, "What did you think of that snare sound on Reba's last record?"

What’s wrong with that. I think of how much effort I put into getting a good snare sound in my basement with my old Ludwig silver sparkle drum kit.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Pat B on June 07, 2019, 12:06:45 PM
What’s wrong with that. I think of how much effort I put into getting a good snare sound in my basement with my old Ludwig silver sparkle drum kit.

With Ludwig kits I usually see a Supraphonic or an Acrolite. Did your kit have a matching snare?
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ghost of Baron Scarpia on June 07, 2019, 12:12:25 PM
With Ludwig kits I usually see a Supraphonic or an Acrolite. Did your kit have a matching snare?

This was old-school. Probably 1960 vintage.

Looked like this:

(https://i.pinimg.com/originals/bf/5d/86/bf5d8671bf9f183070147357d1ace795.jpg)

Unlike the set shown, I think the snare was matching silver sparkle (i.e., wood construction).
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: (: premont :) on June 07, 2019, 12:21:25 PM
I agree: I affix titles to my music because I am a failure as a composer.

Maybe you were ironic, but:

Is it a failure to compose music without a specific meaning??

Is it possible to compose music with a specific meaning at all??

I think music, which can be interpreted in different ways, is much more interesting and enriching.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Pat B on June 07, 2019, 12:34:41 PM
This was old-school. Probably 1960 vintage.

Looked like this:

(https://i.pinimg.com/originals/bf/5d/86/bf5d8671bf9f183070147357d1ace795.jpg)

Unlike the set shown, I think the snare was matching silver sparkle (i.e., wood construction).

Well, that was a nice choice. :)
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: (: premont :) on June 07, 2019, 12:39:23 PM
Right, and when a composer puts something to score or in film scoring these days to a piano roll midi notation, they are often trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, because all musical notation is insufficient in capturing an individual interpretation as played or thought by the composer (often not the same thing if the composer is not a good piano player), or it is a bit of a bad and rigid influence, like mensural notation or a modern midi sequencer that requires bandaid solutions like tempo automation.

Composers more often than performers constantly change the way their music should be played in more fundamental ways, like changing the meter, because they are not sure which is best for lines they have written, like once they add percussion and so on. Composers always have the license to do this, but sometimes performers do this very successfully if they are covering or transcribing a piece of music.

The problem of notation is why the expression maps in Cubase and articulation marks are so popular for vst sampled instruments. The composer there is pulled in two ways away from direct communication with the listener of the musical piece from the mind. You have to get the software to get an approximation of human performers so it doesn't sound flat when played back, but then if budget allows you have to adjust the score so it can actually be played by hired human musicians (French horn is a good example), and you are still not really capturing the music as it sounded in your head, you are working within limitations and constantly reminded of them.

Btw hope you are doing well :)

Hello, Joe, a nice surprise to meet you again here. :) Yes, considering the circumstances I am still doing well, and I hope that you are doing well too.

My post above was most about traditional musical notation, and it is obvious, that the shortcoming of this as to more precise indications invites to a large number of  individual interpretations. But I think this is a strength, - because if we knew in microdetails, what the composer wanted, the performers role would vanish, and interpretations would be repetitive and monotone and in the end boring.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ghost of Baron Scarpia on June 07, 2019, 12:58:58 PM
Well, that was a nice choice. :)

Pure luck. My father bought it off a business associate, Seth Alpert, who was Herb Alpert's cousin (the Tijuana Brass guy). I think I've told this story a dozen times here. :)
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: DaveF on June 07, 2019, 01:07:33 PM
This is a great thread, even better for straying into pictures of vintage Ludwig drum kits.  But reading the original post carefully, I don't think the OP is denying that music has emotional content (he says "without getting into the merits of that view", i.e. it's not the question he's currently discussing), nor that it has the power to cause emotional reactions (in fact "that power must surely go without saying").  He seems to be asking whether it's possibly to hear music without adding anything of our own, merely to experience the tones as pure sound.  To which I can only add: I don't experience music like that, but my dog does (although he's a big Classic FM fan, while I incline towards BBC Radio 3, which indicates a huge gulf in taste between us).
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: San Antone on June 07, 2019, 02:00:15 PM
This is a great thread, even better for straying into pictures of vintage Ludwig drum kits.  But reading the original post carefully, I don't think the OP is denying that music has emotional content (he says "without getting into the merits of that view", i.e. it's not the question he's currently discussing), nor that it has the power to cause emotional reactions (in fact "that power must surely go without saying").  He seems to be asking whether it's possibly to hear music without adding anything of our own, merely to experience the tones as pure sound.  To which I can only add: I don't experience music like that, but my dog does (although he's a big Classic FM fan, while I incline towards BBC Radio 3, which indicates a huge gulf in taste between us).

I've asked some guy twice to explain how that is done, i.e. listen to music as musical information only, sans any emotional or expressive associations.  He has chosen to ignore my question.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on June 07, 2019, 02:38:43 PM
Maybe you were ironic, but:

Is it a failure to compose music without a specific meaning??

Is it possible to compose music with a specific meaning at all??

I think music, which can be interpreted in different ways, is much more interesting and enriching.

Thank you, you tuned me in crystal clear!
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ghost of Baron Scarpia on June 07, 2019, 02:57:11 PM
I've asked some guy twice to explain how that is done, i.e. listen to music as musical information only, sans any emotional or expressive associations.  He has chosen to ignore my question.

I will presume to quote some guy.

Quote
But one thing seems pretty standard here at GMG (and almost everywhere else, for that matter), and that is that music has emotional content. Without getting into the merits of that view, though if that happens it happens, I'm more interested in the moment in finding out if anyone at GMG listens to music itself, without having to turn it into something else. Sure, music sets all sorts of different feelings and ideas going in all sorts of listeners, but that power must surely go without saying. What it seems to have no power to do is convince anyone that it's good and fine and strong just being its own sweet self, not causing emotional reactions, not expressing emotional states, not telling complicated little stories, just sounding.

My emphasis. It seems to me that some guy (at least in the OP) has no interested in condemning or denying emotional associations with music. I think he is asking if they are necessary, if they are inseparable from the music, and if people can enjoy music while ignoring those associations.

To some extent I can. I can think of an example. I really like Bartok's concerto for orchestra, especially the final movement. It begins with a furious fugato for strings and later these are infiltrated by some material reminiscent of folk tunes. When I first came to know the piece I had an emotional association, that it was somehow a representation of the dehumanizing pace of modern industrial/militaristic life, contrasted with the life of a more innocent age. Then I read somewhere that Bartok intended it as an expression of pure joy. Okay, I can hear it that way too. But I can also not think about those ideas and just be astonished by the unfolding of that incredibly intense contrapuntal music and how it relates to the simpler musical themes that develops out of it. And whether I think of it as grim or joyful, it is the incredible intense contrapuntal music that makes it a moving piece.

I will not deny that there are some pieces which have an emotional subtext that is pretty inescapable. Take the second movement of Beethoven's 7th. There is a generally somber mood that seems to pervade it, established by the chord that opens it (which also closes it). But is somberness really the essence of it? For me it is about a melody which starts out as a single note obsessively repeated over a shifting harmony, then a counter-melody heard below the surface of the music, then the counter-melody seems to grow in importance until it is at the apex of a towering climax, then it breaks and the melody is the center of a gentle fugato. It is a masterful sequence of musical transformations. Is it great because it is the somberest thing ever created, or is it great because of the stunning originality of the treatment of such a simple theme? Sometimes I might like to lean in to the mood but it is the stunning musical invention that makes it a transcendent experience.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ghost of Baron Scarpia on June 07, 2019, 03:02:44 PM
That reminds me, I've been meaning to listen to Antal Dorati's recording of the Beethoven 7th...
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: San Antone on June 07, 2019, 03:06:30 PM
I will presume to quote some guy.

My emphasis. It seems to me that some guy (at least in the OP) has no interested in condemning or denying emotional associations with music. I think he is asking if they are necessary, if they are inseparable from the music, and if people can enjoy music while ignoring those associations.

To some extent I can. I can think of an example. I really like Bartok's concerto for orchestra, especially the final movement. It begins with a furious fugato for strings and later these are infiltrated by some material reminiscent of folk tunes. When I first came to know the piece I had an emotional association, that it was somehow a representation of the dehumanizing pace of modern industrial/militaristic life, contrasted with the life of a more innocent age. Then I read somewhere that Bartok intended it as an expression of pure joy. Okay, I can hear it that way too. But I can also not think about those ideas and just be astonished by the unfolding of that incredibly intense contrapuntal music and how it relates to the simpler musical themes that develops out of it. And whether I think of it as grim or joyful, it is the incredible intense contrapuntal music that makes it a moving piece.

I will not deny that there are some pieces which have an emotional subtext that is pretty inescapable. Take the second movement of Beethoven's 7th. There is a generally somber mood that seems to pervade it, established by the chord that opens it (which also closes it). But is somberness really the essence of it? For me it is about a melody which starts out as a single note obsessively repeated over a shifting harmony, then a counter-melody heard below the surface of the music, then the counter-melody seems to grow in importance until it is at the apex of a towering climax, then it breaks and the melody is the center of a gentle fugato. It is a masterful sequence of musical transformations. Is it great because it is the somberest thing ever created, or is it great because of the stunning originality of the treatment of such a simple theme? Sometimes I might like to lean in to the mood but it is the stunning musical invention that makes it a transcendent experience.

Okay, I can get with that.  In fact, now that I think about it I listen to a lot of music without making any kind of emotional association: most of Bach's instrumental music is a cornucopia of invention, stacking subjects in a contrapuntal maze that is amazing.  Also, most modern music is devoid (for me) of any emotional content and I listen to the textures and atmospheric sections.  Feldman, for example is a composer for whose music I have expressed much love.  It is a kind of Zen exercise listening to music which is not using traditional tonal harmonic movement.

So, I retract my question, since I can say that I do understand some guy's proposition.

Thanks, Scarp.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ken B on June 07, 2019, 03:43:34 PM
Okay, I can get with that.  In fact, now that I think about it I listen to a lot of music without making any kind of emotional association: most of Bach's instrumental music is a cornucopia of invention, stacking subjects in a contrapuntal maze that is amazing.  Also, most modern music is devoid (for me) of any emotional content and I listen to the textures and atmospheric sections.  Feldman, for example is a composer for whose music I have expressed much love.  It is a kind of Zen exercise listening to music which is not using traditional tonal harmonic movement.

So, I retract my question, since I can say that I do understand some guy's proposition.

Thanks, Scarp.

Bzzzt. Curiosity is an emotion. So is Zen calmness. Can you perceive much less describe anything “atmospheric” without reference to emotion?
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 07, 2019, 04:39:01 PM
Bzzzt. Curiosity is an emotion. So is Zen calmness. Can you perceive much less describe anything “atmospheric” without reference to emotion?

I do rather think that half this conversation is driven by people not identifying what they even think counts as ”emotion”.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 07, 2019, 06:21:32 PM
My emphasis. It seems to me that some guy (at least in the OP) has no interested in condemning or denying emotional associations with music. I think he is asking if they are necessary, if they are inseparable from the music, and if people can enjoy music while ignoring those associations.

Let's try a different emphasis. Before the part that you quoted in bold, this appears (which you also quoted but didn't emphasise).

Quote
But one thing seems pretty standard here at GMG (and almost everywhere else, for that matter), and that is that music has emotional content. Without getting into the merits of that view, though if that happens it happens, I'm more interested in the moment in finding out if anyone at GMG listens to music itself, without having to turn it into something else.

I don't buy the "without getting into the merits of that view" bit. I really don't. The whole structure is built around saying that the view that music has emotional content is not accepted.  And the idea that music has emotional content is linked with the idea that people are turning music into "something else".

And then of course, after the bit that you put in bold, "listening to music itself" is expanded into "not causing emotional reactions, not expressing emotional states".

This is why I don't buy the denials as to what some guy's argument actually is. Or at the very least, I think some guy is doing a bloody awful job of explaining any kind of argument about the value of focusing on the structure and creation of music without simultaneously discounting the emotional expression.

I'm a highly analytical person. I love a beautifully constructed sonata form as much as anyone. But I'm able to say that without throwing in remarks about emotional content or emotional reactions or emotional states that suggest this isn't an intrinsic part of music, that it's an add-on that a music listener really ought to be capable of doing without. That it isn't actually PART of "listening to music itself".

There continues to be, in my view, some kind of determination to talk only about what music "is" and divorce it entirely about what music is "for". As if the two aren't intrinsically linked. As if it's fine to treat music as some kind of abstract object without any kind of function at all (beyond the function of causing admiration at the beauty of its construction).

To me they are intrinsically linked. How music "is" is inevitably tangled with what music is "for". Sorry, but if someone creates music as a purely intellectual exercise along the lines of "let's see how many parallel diminished 7ths I can string together in the second subject of a sonata exposition" without any thought about the effect this has on a listener, it's just a kind of intellectual wankery. It's also ahistorical in that it completely ignores the reality of how any working musician actually operated in order to make a living. Music is designed with a goal in mind, and that goal is to engage with listeners. It's supposed to elicit reactions.

It's perfectly possible to utterly admire the aesthetic beauty of an architect's design and the ingenuity of that and the builder's construction methods, and I haven't got the slightest problem with studying that and recognising that and admiring how people at the top of that field create masterpieces. But an architect who just creates beautiful building designs for the sake of it is going to go out of business, and anyone who solely admires buildings from that perspective is actually missing the point of why the building was created in the first place. Its function is to engage with people. People are supposed to live in it, or work in it, or be patients in it, or hold meetings in it, or whatever. With a few possible exceptions like the Taj Mahal, the great majority of buildings are designed and built with consideration of how people are going to interact with the building.

Noting that not everyone will interact with the building in the same way, or exactly as the architect originally intended. Wait, does that sound at all familiar? Does anyone think that if people interact with the building in different ways, this means that the architect had no plan at all as to how people were going to interact with it?

And different music is "for" different things, just as different buildings are "for" different things. Aspects of the design change precisely because the goal or purpose is different. The way people are intended to engage with the music is different. This is why, for example, we can identify some music as dance music.

All this talk of listening to "music itself" continues to strike me as a call not to stop adding to music, but as a call to take away one part of the musical experience and treat it as if it wasn't important. Again, I don't have any problem with looking at and hearing the notes and the structure. And for a performer understanding how a piece is built is vital. What I have a problem with is treating the actual effect on listeners, the elicited reactions, as some kind of add-on when for most composers that kind of engagement with listeners was the whole point of the exercise, and for most performers too. Their tools and the skill with which they wielded them is what makes the master composers into masters, but their goals were often to make listeners laugh, or surprise them, or make them cry or feel heroic. The same goals that a rank amateur might have but fail to achieve because they don't have the tools and knowledge at their disposal. Alternatively, a lesser composer might ape the forms of the master but not achieve the same effect because they didn't actually have any specific goal in mind beyond imitating the form.

Does anyone ever just admire the tools and the handiwork and the craftsmanship? Sure. Do I do this sometimes? Definitely (especially when I was a pianist trying to come to grips with a piece, but I also sometimes do it with pieces when I'm trying to understand them better).

What I don't do is treat this as the sum total of listening to music, with the rest being some kind of add-on. I treat it as a technique to actually enhance my experience when I go back to embracing the whole experience.

I don't listen to the "music itself" so as to avoid adding emotion on to the music. I do it to understand how the emotion in the music was achieved.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 09, 2019, 06:10:02 AM
There continues to be, in my view, some kind of determination to talk only about what music "is" and divorce it entirely about what music is "for". As if the two aren't intrinsically linked. As if it's fine to treat music as some kind of abstract object without any kind of function at all (beyond the function of causing admiration at the beauty of its construction).

To me they are intrinsically linked. How music "is" is inevitably tangled with what music is "for". Sorry, but if someone creates music as a purely intellectual exercise along the lines of "let's see how many parallel diminished 7ths I can string together in the second subject of a sonata exposition" without any thought about the effect this has on a listener, it's just a kind of intellectual wankery.

Many thanks for expressing my thoughts exactly.  "Intellectual wankery" is a most felicitous (and polite) expression. I would have employed a more blunt term (starting with "mas..." and ending with "...bation")

Quote
It's also ahistorical in that it completely ignores the reality of how any working musician actually operated in order to make a living. Music is designed with a goal in mind, and that goal is to engage with listeners. It's supposed to elicit reactions.

Honestly, it's beyond my power of comprehension how anyone can ignore the simple truths you stated above. How anyone, in fact, can in earnest claim that Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 8 or Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony are mere combination of sounds for their own sake, without any implicit emotional content, and that whatever emotional reaction they might ellicit from listeners are nothing else than unintended by-products of the said combinations. And be it noted I chose only examples of "absolute" music. Bring in Schumann's Papillons or Liszt's Annees de pelerinage --- the preposterousness of the claim is made even more evident.


Quote
It's perfectly possible to utterly admire the aesthetic beauty of an architect's design and the ingenuity of that and the builder's construction methods, and I haven't got the slightest problem with studying that and recognising that and admiring how people at the top of that field create masterpieces. But an architect who just creates beautiful building designs for the sake of it is going to go out of business, and anyone who solely admires buildings from that perspective is actually missing the point of why the building was created in the first place. Its function is to engage with people. People are supposed to live in it, or work in it, or be patients in it, or hold meetings in it, or whatever. With a few possible exceptions like the Taj Mahal, the great majority of buildings are designed and built with consideration of how people are going to interact with the building.

Noting that not everyone will interact with the building in the same way, or exactly as the architect originally intended. Wait, does that sound at all familiar? Does anyone think that if people interact with the building in different ways, this means that the architect had no plan at all as to how people were going to interact with it?

There are some people who apparently think exactly that.

Quote
And different music is "for" different things, just as different buildings are "for" different things. Aspects of the design change precisely because the goal or purpose is different. The way people are intended to engage with the music is different. This is why, for example, we can identify some music as dance music.

Again, I'm baffled how this simple truth could ever be denied or circumvented.

Quote
this talk of listening to "music itself" continues to strike me as a call not to stop adding to music, but as a call to take away one part of the musical experience and treat it as if it wasn't important. Again, I don't have any problem with looking at and hearing the notes and the structure. And for a performer understanding how a piece is built is vital. What I have a problem with is treating the actual effect on listeners, the elicited reactions, as some kind of add-on when for most composers that kind of engagement with listeners was the whole point of the exercise, and for most performers too. Their tools and the skill with which they wielded them is what makes the master composers into masters, but their goals were often to make listeners laugh, or surprise them, or make them cry or feel heroic. The same goals that a rank amateur might have but fail to achieve because they don't have the tools and knowledge at their disposal. Alternatively, a lesser composer might ape the forms of the master but not achieve the same effect because they didn't actually have any specific goal in mind beyond imitating the form.

Ditto, and excellently put.

Oh, btw, there is a post of mine which apparently got buried by the flurry of the discussion and I would very much like to know what you, and anybody else, especially some guy, make of it.

 http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,29005.msg1220015.html#msg1220015 (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,29005.msg1220015.html#msg1220015)

Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ken B on June 09, 2019, 08:39:31 AM
Gebrauchsmusik.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 09, 2019, 08:44:05 AM
Here is a quote from Franz Liszt.

I    have    latterly    traveled    through    many    new    countries,    have    seen    many different    places,    and    visited    many    a    spot    hallowed    by    history    and    poetry;    I    have felt    that    the    varied    aspects    of    nature,    and    the    different    incidents    associated    with them,    did    not    pass    before    my    eyes    like    meaningless    pictures,    but    that    they evoked    profound    emotions    within    my    soul;    that    a    vague    but    direct    affinity    was established    betwixt    them    and    myself,    a    real,    though    indefinable    understanding,    a sure    but    inexplicable    means    of    communication,    and    I    have    tried    to    give    musical utterance    to    some    of    my    strongest    sensations,    some    of    my    liveliest    impressions. (emphasis mine).

Well, according to some guy (and Stravinsky, for that matter), Liszt was merely deluding himself, and us listeners, big time --- because  there was no way whatsoever for him to  give  musical utterance    to    some    of    his    strongest    sensations,    some    of    his    liveliest    impressions for the simple reason that "music is, by its very nature, essentially powerless to express anything at all, whether a feeling, an attitude of mind, a psychological mood, a phenomenon of nature, etc … ."

Now, pick your choice: either Liszt was right and Stravinsky wrong, or viceversa. Tertium non datur.

My choice:

(http://piano4life.com/composers_files/image008.png)









 
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 09, 2019, 08:47:28 AM
Gebrauchsmusik.

You mean, such as The Rite of Spring, or Petrushka, or The Firebird?  ;D

Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ken B on June 09, 2019, 09:12:55 AM
You mean, such as The Rite of Spring, or Petrushka, or The Firebird?  ;D
It is commonly believed those were written as ballets, with stories. But not so.  They were really written to win acrostic contests, and Stravinsky never intended them to be heard.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: (: premont :) on June 09, 2019, 09:21:58 AM
Yes, and one may wonder, why Stravinsky composed that much, declaring himself - and anyone else - unable to express anything with music at all. :P
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Mirror Image on June 09, 2019, 10:31:02 AM
Here is a quote from Franz Liszt.

I    have    latterly    traveled    through    many    new    countries,    have    seen    many different    places,    and    visited    many    a    spot    hallowed    by    history    and    poetry;    I    have felt    that    the    varied    aspects    of    nature,    and    the    different    incidents    associated    with them,    did    not    pass    before    my    eyes    like    meaningless    pictures,    but    that    they evoked    profound    emotions    within    my    soul;    that    a    vague    but    direct    affinity    was established    betwixt    them    and    myself,    a    real,    though    indefinable    understanding,    a sure    but    inexplicable    means    of    communication,    and    I    have    tried    to    give    musical utterance    to    some    of    my    strongest    sensations,    some    of    my    liveliest    impressions. (emphasis mine).

Well, according to some guy (and Stravinsky, for that matter), Liszt was merely deluding himself, and us listeners, big time --- because  there was no way whatsoever for him to  give  musical utterance    to    some    of    his    strongest    sensations,    some    of    his    liveliest    impressions for the simple reason that "music is, by its very nature, essentially powerless to express anything at all, whether a feeling, an attitude of mind, a psychological mood, a phenomenon of nature, etc … ."

Now, pick your choice: either Liszt was right and Stravinsky wrong, or viceversa. Tertium non datur.

My choice:

(http://piano4life.com/composers_files/image008.png)

I can't choose either side because sometimes music can evoke strong emotions within me and shake my very core, but, on other occasions, I’m only sweep away by the sheer sound of the music. This is why I don’t subscribe to either ideologies --- not that Liszt or Stravinsky are wrong, but I simply can’t confine something as complex as a reaction to the music to someone else’s opinion or feeling towards music.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Clever Hans on June 09, 2019, 07:08:16 PM
Hello, Joe, a nice surprise to meet you again here. :) Yes, considering the circumstances I am still doing well, and I hope that you are doing well too.

My post above was most about traditional musical notation, and it is obvious, that the shortcoming of this as to more precise indications invites to a large number of  individual interpretations. But I think this is a strength, - because if we knew in microdetails, what the composer wanted, the performers role would vanish, and interpretations would be repetitive and monotone and in the end boring.

Yes, had a couple kids, and life got crazy, but I'm well and have missed our conversations.

I agree completely.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 10, 2019, 12:02:05 AM
I can't choose either side because sometimes music can evoke strong emotions within me and shake my very core, but, on other occasions, I’m only sweep away by the sheer sound of the music. This is why I don’t subscribe to either ideologies --- not that Liszt or Stravinsky are wrong, but I simply can’t confine something as complex as a reaction to the music to someone else’s opinion or feeling towards music.

I don't see Liszt's statement as being about how any listener should listen to his music, but as an explicit statement of design from his part when composing it. He tried to translate into music his strong sensations and impressions. Would he have tried this, let alone openly proclaim it, if he hadn't been fully confident in the power of music to express sensations and impressions? Obviously he had no interest in sound for its own sake. This doesn't mean that you can't listen to it for the sake of sound only, it means just that Liszt intended another type of engagement from the part of his listeners. (We should bear in mind that the way his contemporaries listened to music, any music not just his, was not our way, at least not on a large scale.)
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: ritter on June 10, 2019, 03:08:05 AM
I don't see Liszt's statement as being about how any listener should listen to his music, but as an explicit statement of design from his part when composing it. He tried to translate into music his strong sensations and impressions. Would he have tried this, let alone openly proclaim it, if he hadn't been fully confident in the power of music to express sensations and impressions? Obviously he had no interest in sound for its own sake. This doesn't mean that you can't listen to it for the sake of sound only, it means just that Liszt intended another type of engagement from the part of his listeners. (We should bear in mind that the way his contemporaries listened to music, any music not just his, was not our way, at least not on a large scale.)
Fortunately for all of us, works of art become independent beings once they reach the public, and to a great extent the author loses control over them...
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 10, 2019, 05:39:13 AM
works of art become independent beings once they reach the public, and to a great extent the author loses control over them...

Of course they do, but acknowledging this obvious fact does not automatically translate into claiming that the artist did not intend it to convey any specific content and meaning.

Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: ritter on June 10, 2019, 06:14:18 AM
Of course they do, but acknowledging this obvious fact does not automatically translate into claiming that the artist did not intend it to convey any specific content and meaning.
Milton Babbitt famously wrote the article "Who Cares if You Listen?". Well, one could also say "Who cares what the composer intended?  ;D (I know, I know, non sequitur, argumentum ad consequentiam, et al.  :D)
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 10, 2019, 06:22:58 AM
Milton Babbitt famously wrote the article "Who Cares if You Listen?".

To which the audience responded: "Who cares if you compose?"   ;D

Quote
Well, one could also say "Who cares what the composer intended?

Liszt stated his intent explicitly. In listening to his music, we can choose to ignore it altogether, or to take it into consideration. What we can't do is to pretend the intent did not exist.

Besides, the question is absurd. The music exists precisely because of what the composer intended. Without the latter we wouldn't have had the former in the first place.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: some guy on June 10, 2019, 08:44:11 AM
Ritter, Babbitt did write an article, which was entitled "Who cares if you listen?" but that's not Babbitt's title. When that article started out, as a lecture, it was called "Off the cuff," and when it solidified into an article, that title was "The composer as specialist," a title that actually fits the contents of the article.

Even edited by Musical America to make it fit their provocative title, it still didn't really match with it.

Hardly anyone has read that article. Anyone who has can see plainly that "Who cares if you listen?" really fits nothing that's in the article.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ghost of Baron Scarpia on June 10, 2019, 08:46:14 AM
I do rather think that half this conversation is driven by people not identifying what they even think counts as ”emotion”.

My viewpoint is not to deny that there is an emotional response listening to music. As was pointed out, the sense of awe or curiosity I described at listening to certain pieces of music is an emotional response, although it is not the "program" of the music. I would never deny it is very common for composers to write a piece with the idea of expressing an emotional state. In some cases the cultural cues are so unmistakable that almost every listener will recognize them. (A stereotypical funeral march will not be mistaken for a joyful jig.) My point is that the emotional state that inspires the composer and which he or she "expresses" in the creation of the music is not an intrinsic characteristic of the music. This conclusion is not motivated by philosophical notions, it is motivated by my experience that I often have a different emotional response to a piece than the composers expressed intent, or to other listeners, or to my own on a subsequent listening. And I find the most "moving" pieces are typically the ones which are ambiguous, and in which I can find different emotional responses.

To give an analogy, Messiaen had a form of synesthesia in which different sounds were perceived as having color. He used these color associations as the basis of his compositions, and invented scales which exploited this sound/color mapping. His scores contain indications of the color associated with a given passage. Well, most people don't have synesthesia and even people with synesthesia don't necessarily have the same color associations as Messiaen. But the music he created is unique and beautiful. The color associations guided his creation even if they were in his mind. The music of a certain "color" has some unique property, but not necessarily perceived as a color by a listener. He wrote a passage which to him was gold and blue, and someone might listen to it and perceive it as wistful, someone might perceive it as awestruck, someone else might perceive it as violet and someone else might perceive it as cacophony. I think of color in Messiaen's music analogous to "emotion" in music.

As I said, this is my experience of music.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 10, 2019, 08:55:18 AM
Hardly anyone has read that article. Anyone who has can see plainly that "Who cares if you listen?" really fits nothing that's in the article.

I have read it, several times, and it fits in the general argument alright.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 10, 2019, 09:04:57 AM
To give an analogy, Messiaen had a form of synesthesia in which different sounds were perceived as having color. He used these color associations as the basis of his compositions, and invented scales which exploited this sound/color mapping. His scores contain indications of the color associated with a given passage. Well, most people don't have synesthesia and even people with synesthesia don't necessarily have the same color associations as Messiaen. But the music he created is unique and beautiful. The color associations guided his creation even if they were in his mind. The music of a certain "color" has some unique property, but not necessarily perceived as a color by a listener. He wrote a passage which to him was gold and blue, and someone might listen to it and perceive it as wistful, someone might perceive it as awestruck, someone else might perceive it as violet and someone else might perceive it as cacophony. I think of color in Messiaen's music analogous to "emotion" in music.

You have chosen an extreme example (synesthesia) to illustrate an average situation (what the composer intended is not necessarily what the listener perceives). As a physicist you should have known better than that.  :)

And even so: Rachmaninoff was highly skeptical of synesthesia and poked fun at it in a conversation with Rimskly-Korsakov and Scriabin, who were avowed synesthesists. They pointed out to him that the scene in The Miserly Knight where a huge amount of gold is counted and boasted upon is scored in D-major, a key both of them associated with intense yellow.  :laugh: (Too lazy to find the source right right now but it's somewhere on the internet.)

Please, what do you make of this:

According to our esteemed fellow GMG-er Mandryka, here are three emotional reactions to Bach's cello suites, by three world-class cellists:

Rostropovich:

g maj: innocent and childlike
d min: hurt and sorrowful like a teenager poet
c maj: a swaggering crown prince
e flat maj: a philosopher peering into the depths
c min: melancholy
d maj: innocence regained


Casals:

g maj: optimistic
d min: tragic
c maj: heroic
e flat maj: grandiose
c min: tempestuous
d maj: bucolic


Ma:

g maj: nature at play
d min: journey to light
c maj: celebration
e flat maj: building
c min: struggles for hope
d maj: epiphany


Well, let's see what we have:

g maj: innocent and childlike / optimistic / nature at play --- Fairly consistent or at least not mutually exclusive.

d min: hurt and sorrowful like a teenager poet / tragic / journey to light ---  The first two, fairly consistent or at least not mutually exclusive; the third, radically different than the others.

c maj: a swaggering crown prince /  heroic / celebration --- Fairly consistent or at least not mutually exclusive.

e flat maj: a philosopher peering into the depths / grandiose / building --- Fairly consistent or at least nothing mutually exclusive (one can build a grandiose philosophical system)

c min: melancholy / tempestuous / struggles for hope --- The first radically different than the others, the other two fairly consistent or at least not mutually exclusive (can struggles for hope be anything else than tempestuous?)

d maj: innocence regained / bucolic / epiphany --- Fairly consistent or at least not mutually exclusive.

Summary: Three world-class musicians, with three different backgrounds, are mostly in agreement about their emotional reactions to Bach's cello suites; the radically different reactions are few and far between. (And we should take into account the very important fact that this happens with respect to scores which contains no musical indications whatsoever other than titles, let alone extramusical indications or titles).

Conclusion: Music, even when presented without any explicit extramusical title or indication whatsoever, does ellicit from seasoned musicians (ie people deeply immersed and versed in what music is and how it works) fairly consistent emotional reactions.

Now, come Scarpia and some guy and tell us that it's all a figment of their imagination and that there's nothing in those cello suites other than a combination of sounds for its own sake.

(Source: http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,21492.msg1218951.html#msg1218951 (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,21492.msg1218951.html#msg1218951))
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: some guy on June 10, 2019, 09:59:57 AM
I just ran across an interesting bit in An Avenue of Stone,* that's apropos to some of the colloquy on this thread. It's a short bit, so I'll just go ahead and quote most of it (the first speaker is a woman at a party and the second is the first person narrator of the novel):

"'Why do you young people pretend to see anything in this modern art? How can you go and look at a Gainsborough one day, and then admire [Picasso] the next?'

I should have liked to have told her that I was not a young person, but a polite one approaching middle life; that the form of her question implied impoliteness to myself; that I would prefer not to waste my time giving her a reply to which she would not trouble to listen, the whole of her delight having lain in the query...."

*Pamela Hansford Johnson, 1947
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: (: premont :) on June 10, 2019, 10:00:56 AM
My viewpoint is not to deny that there is an emotional response listening to music. As was pointed out, the sense of awe or curiosity I described at listening to certain pieces of music is an emotional response, although it is not the "program" of the music. I would never deny it is very common for composers to write a piece with the idea of expressing an emotional state. In some cases the cultural cues are so unmistakable that almost every listener will recognize them. (A stereotypical funeral march will not be mistaken for a joyful jig.) My point is that the emotional state that inspires the composer and which he or she "expresses" in the creation of the music is not an intrinsic characteristic of the music. This conclusion is not motivated by philosophical notions, it is motivated by my experience that I often have a different emotional response to a piece than the composers expressed intent, or to other listeners, or to my own on a subsequent listening. And I find the most "moving" pieces are typically the ones which are ambiguous, and in which I can find different emotional responses.

As I said, this is my experience of music.

Well put.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: San Antone on June 10, 2019, 10:38:55 AM
Ritter, Babbitt did write an article, which was entitled "Who cares if you listen?" but that's not Babbitt's title. When that article started out, as a lecture, it was called "Off the cuff," and when it solidified into an article, that title was "The composer as specialist," a title that actually fits the contents of the article.

Even edited by Musical America to make it fit their provocative title, it still didn't really match with it.

Hardly anyone has read that article. Anyone who has can see plainly that "Who cares if you listen?" really fits nothing that's in the article.

It's been years since I read the article, but I seem to remember that his major point was that the university (and a community of academics) was the appropriate audience for new music. I think he compared it to the community of experimental science where specialists were the only ones who could understand and appreciate the work.  That is, the general population were not the target audience for his (and presumably like minded composers') music.  If I have mis-remembered the article, I trust you will correct me.

I think that the listening experience is a complex event and music is a complex entity, which can offer many variables for appreciation.  For me it is not a question of either/or (i.e. associating emotions with the music or listening to just "the music itself") but that both sensory experiences occur and can be appreciated. 
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ken B on June 10, 2019, 10:48:41 AM
I have read it, several times, and it fits in the general argument alright.
The title is most apt. And Babbitt never disavowed it until decades later when that attitude was no longer fashionable.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 10, 2019, 11:02:05 PM
It's been years since I read the article, but I seem to remember that his major point was that the university (and a community of academics) was the appropriate audience for new music. I think he compared it to the community of experimental science where specialists were the only ones who could understand and appreciate the work.  That is, the general population were not the target audience for his (and presumably like minded composers') music.  If I have mis-remembered the article, I trust you will correct me.

Here is the whole thing.

Quote from: Milton Babbitt - Who Cares If You Listen?
"Who Cares if You Listen?"
Milton Babbitt, High Fidelity (Feb. 1958)

This article might have been entitled "The Composer as Specialist" or, alternatively, and perhaps less contentiously, "The Composer as Anachronism." For I am concerned with stating an attitude towards the indisputable facts of the status and condition of the composer of what we will, for the moment, designate as "serious," "advanced," contemporary music. his composer expends an enormous amount of time and energy- and, usually, considerable money- on the creation of a commodity which has little, no, or negative commodity value. e is, in essence, a "vanity" composer. he general public is largely unaware of and uninterested in his music. he majority of performers shun it and resent it. Consequently, the music is little performed, and then primarily at poorly attended concerts before an audience consisting in the main of fellow 'professionals'. t best, the music would appear to be for, of, and by specialists.

Towards this condition of musical and societal "isolation," a variety of attitudes has been expressed, usually with the purpose of assigning blame, often to the music itself, occasionally to critics or performers, and very occasionally to the public. But to assign blame is to imply that this isolation is unnecessary and undesirable. t is my contention that, on the contrary, this condition is not only inevitable, but potentially advantageous for the composer and his music. From my point of view, the composer would do well to consider means of realizing, consolidating, and extending the advantages.

The unprecedented divergence between contemporary serious music and its listeners, on the one hand, and traditional music and its following, on the other, is not accidental and- most probably- not transitory. Rather, it is a result of a half-century of revolution in musical thought, a revolution whose nature and consequences can be compared only with, and in many respects are closely analogous to, those of the mid-nineteenth-century evolution in theoretical physics The immediate and profound effect has been the necessity of the informed musician to reexamine and probe the very foundations of his art. He has been obliged to recognize the possibility, and actuality, of alternatives to what were once regarded as musical absolutes. He lives no longer in a unitary musical universe of "common practice," but in a variety of universes of diverse practice.

This fall from musical innocence is, understandably, as disquieting to some as it is challenging to others, but in any event the process is irreversible; and the music that reflects the full impact of this revolution is, in many significant respects, a truly "new" music, apart from the often highly sophisticated and complex constructive methods of any one composition or group of compositions, the very minimal properties characterizing this body of music are the sources of its "difficulty," "unintelligibility," and- isolation. In indicating the most general of these properties, I shall make reference to no specific works, since I wish to avoid the independent issue of evaluation. The reader is at liberty to supply his own instances; if he cannot (and, granted the condition under discussion, this is a very real possibility) let him be assured that such music does exist.

First. This music employs a tonal vocabulary which is more "efficient" than that of the music of the past, or its derivatives. This is not necessarily a virtue in itself, but it does make possible a greatly increased number or pitch simultaneities, successions, and relationships. his increase in efficiency necessarily reduces the "redundancy" of the language, and as a result the intelligible communication of the work demands increased accuracy from the transmitter (the performer) and activity from the receiver (the listener). Incidentally, it is this circumstance, among many others, that has created the need for purely electronic media of "performance." More importantly for us, it makes ever heavier demands upon the training of the listener's perceptual capacities.

Second. Along with this increase of meaningful pitch materials, the number of functions associated with each component of the musical event also has been multiplied. In the simplest possible terms. Each such "atomic" event is located in a five-dimensional musical space determined by pitch-class, register, dynamic, duration, and timbre. These five components not only together define the single event, but, in the course of a work, the successive values of each component create an individually coherent structure, frequently in parallel with the corresponding structures created by each of the other components. Inability to perceive and remember precisely the values of any of these components results in a dislocation of the event in the work's musical space, an alternation of its relation to a other events in the work, and-thus-a falsification of the composition's total structure. For example, an incorrectly performed or perceived dynamic value results in destruction of the work's dynamic pattern, but also in false identification of other components of the event (of which this dynamic value is a part) with corresponding components of other events so creating incorrect pitch, registral, timbral, and durational associations. It is this high degree of "determinancy" that most strikingly differentiates such music from, for example, a popular song. A popular song is only very partially determined, since it would appear to retain its germane characteristics under considerable alteration of register, rhythmic texture, dynamics, harmonic structure, timbre, and other qualities.

The preliminary differentiation of musical categories by means of this reasonable and usable criterion of "degree of determinacy" offends those who take it to be a definition of qualitative categories, which-of course-it need not always be. Curiously, their demurrers usually take the familiar form of some such "democratic" counterdefinition as: "There is no such thing as 'serious' and 'popular' music." There is only 'good' and 'bad' music." As a public service, let me offer those who still patiently await the revelation of the criteria of Absolute Good an alternative criterion which possesses, at least, the virtue of immediate and irrefutable applicability: "There is no such thing as 'serious' and 'popular' music. There is only music whose title begins with the letter 'X,' and music whose title does not."

Third, musical compositions of the kind under discussion possess a high degree of contextuality and autonomy. That is, the structural characteristics of a given work are less representative of a general class of characteristics than they are unique to the individual work itself. Particularly, principles of relatedness, upon which depends immediate coherence of continuity, are more likely to evolve in the course of the work than to be derived from generalized assumptions. Here again greater and new demands are made upon the perceptual and conceptual abilities of the listener.

Fourth, and finally. Although in many fundamental respects this music is "new," it often also represents a vast extension of the methods of other musics, derived from a considered and extensive knowledge of their dynamic principles. For, concomitant with the "revolution in music," perhaps even an integral aspect thereof, has been the development of analytical theory, concerned with the systematic formulation of such principles to the end of greater efficiency, economy, and understanding. Compositions so rooted necessarily ask comparable knowledge and experience from the listener. Like all communication, this music presupposes a suitably equipped receptor. am aware that "tradition" has it that the lay listener, by virtue of some undefined, transcendental faculty, always is able to arrive at a musical judgment absolute in its wisdom if not always permanent in its validity. regret my inability to accord this declaration of faith the respect due its advanced age.

Deviation from this tradition is bound to dismiss the contemporary music of which I have been talking into "isolation." Nor do I see how or why the situation should be otherwise. Why should the layman be other than bored and puzzled by what he is unable to understand, music or anything else? It is only the translation of this boredom and puzzlement into resentment and denunciation that seems to me indefensible. After all, the public does have its own music, its ubiquitous music: music to eat by, to read by, to dance by, and to be impressed by. Why refuse to recognize the possibility that contemporary music has reached a stage long since attained by other forms of activity? The time has passed when the normally well-educated man without special preparation could understand the most advanced work in, for example, mathematics, philosophy, and physics. Advanced music, to the extent that it reflects the knowledge and originality of the informed composer, scarcely can be expected to appear more intelligible than these arts and sciences to the person whose musical education usually has been even less extensive than his background in other fields. But to this, a double standard is invoked, with the words music is music," implying also that "music is just music." Why not, then, equate the activities of the radio repairman with those of the theoretical physicist, on the basis of the dictum that "physics is physics." It is not difficult to find statements like the following, from the New York Times of September 8, 1 957: "The scientific level of the conference is so high… that there are in the world only 120 mathematicians specializing in the field who could contribute." Specialized music on the other hand, far from signifying "height" of musical level, has been charged with "decadence," even as evidence of an insidious "conspiracy."

It often has been remarked that only in politics and the "arts" does the layman regard himself as an expert, with the right to have his opinion heard. In the realm of politics he knows that this right, in the form of a vote, is guaranteed by fiat. Comparably, in the realm of public music, the concertgoer is secure in the knowledge that the amenities of concert going protect his firmly stated "I didn't like it" from further scrutiny. Imagine, if you can, a layman chancing upon a lecture on "Pointwise Periodic Homeomorphisms." At the conclusion, he announces: "I didn't like it," Social conventions being what they are in such circles, someone might dare inquire: "Why not?" Under duress, our layman discloses precise reasons for his failure to enjoy himself; he found the hall chilly, the lecturer's voice unpleasant, and he was suffering the digestive aftermath of a poor dinner. His interlocutor understandably disqualifies these reasons as irrelevant to the content and value of the lecture, and the development of mathematics is left undisturbed. If the concertgoer is at all versed in the ways of musical lifesmanship, he also will offer reasons for his "I didn't like it" - in the form of assertions that the work in question is "inexpressive," "undramatic," "lacking in poetry," etc., etc., tapping that store of vacuous equivalents hallowed by time for: "I don't like it, and I cannot or will not state why." The concertgoer's critical authority is established beyond the possibility of further inquiry. Certainly he is not responsible for the circumstance that musical discourse is a never-never land of semantic confusion, the last resting place of all those verbal and formal fallacies, those hoary dualisms that have been banished from rational discourse Perhaps he has read, in a widely consulted and respected book on the history of music, the following: "to call him (Tchaikovsky) the 'modern Russian Beethoven' is footless, Beethoven being patently neither modern nor Russian…" Or, the following, by an eminent "nonanalytic" philosopher: "The music of Lourie' is an ontological music... It is born in the singular roots of being, the nearest possible juncture of the soul and the spirit…" How unexceptionable the verbal peccadilloes of the average concertgoer appear beside these masterful models. Or, perhaps, in search of "real" authority, he has acquired his critical vocabulary from the pronouncements of officially "eminent" composers, whose eminence, in turn, is founded largely upon just such assertions as the concertgoer has learned to regurgitate. This cycle is of slight moment in a world where circularity is one of the norms of criticism. Composers (and performers), wittingly or unwittingly assuming the character of "talented children" and "inspired idiots" generally ascribed to them, are singularly adept at the conversion of personal tastes into general principles. Music they do not like is "not music," composers whose music they do not like are "not composers

In search of what to think and how to say it, the layman may turn to newspapers and magazines. Here he finds conclusive evidence for the proposition that "music is music." The science editor of such publications contents himself with straightforward reporting, usually news of the "factual" sciences; books and articles not intended for popular consumption are not reviewed. Whatever the reason, such matters are left to professional journals. The music critic admits no comparable differentiation. We may feel, with some justice, that music which presents itself in the market place of the concert hall automatically offers itself to public approval or disapproval. We may feel, again with some justice, that to omit the expected criticism of the "advanced" work would be to do the composer an injustice in his assumed quest for, if nothing else, public notice and "professional recognition." The critic, at least to this extent, is himself a victim of the leveling of categories.

Here, then, are some of the factors determining the climate of the public world of music. Perhaps we should not have overlooked those pockets of "power" where prizes, awards, and commissions are dispensed, where music is adjudged guilty, not only without the right to be confronted by its accuser, but without the right to be confronted by the accusations. Or those well-meaning souls who exhort the public "just to listen to more contemporary music," apparently on the theory that familiarity breeds passive acceptance. Or those, often the same well-meaning souls, who remind the composer of his "obligation to the public," while the public's obligation to the composer is fulfilled, manifestly, by mere physical presence in the concert hall or before loudspeaker or- more authoritatively- by committing to memory the numbers of phonograph and amplifier models. Or the intricate social world within this musical world where the salon becomes bazaar, and music itself becomes an ingredient of verbal canapés for cocktail conversation.

I say all this not to present a picture of a virtuous music in a sinful world, but to point up the problems of a special music in an alien and inapposite world. And so, I dare suggest that the composer would do himself and his music an immediate and eventual service by total, resolute, and voluntary withdrawal from this public world to one of private performance and electronic media, with its very real possibility of complete elimination of the public and social aspects of musical composition. By so doing, the separation between the domains would be defined beyond any possibility of confusion of categories, and the composer would be free to pursue a private life of professional achievement, as opposed to a public life of unprofessional compromise and exhibitionism

But how, it may be asked, will this serve to secure the means of survival or the composer and his music? One answer is that after all such a private life is what the university provides the scholar and the scientist. It is only proper that the university, which-significantly-has provided so many contemporary composers with their professional training and general education, should provide a home for the "complex," "difficult," and "problematical" in music. Indeed, the process has begun; and if it appears to proceed too slowly, I take consolation in the knowledge that in this respect, too, music seems to be in historically retarded parallel with now sacrosanct fields of endeavor. In E. T. Bell's Men of Mathematics, we read: "In the eighteenth century the universities were not the principal centers of research in Europe. hey might have become such sooner than they did but for the classical tradition and its understandable hostility to science. Mathematics was close enough to antiquity to be respectable, but physics, being more recent, was suspect. Further, a mathematician in a university of the time would have been expected to put much of his effort on elementary teaching; his research, if any, would have been an unprofitable luxury..." A simple substitution of "musical composition" for "research," of "academic" for "classical," of "music" for "physics," and of "composer" for "mathematician," provides a strikingly accurate picture of the current situation. And as long as the confusion I have described continues to exist, how can the university and its community assume other than that the composer welcomes and courts public competition with the historically certified products of the past, and the commercially certified products of the present?

Perhaps for the same reason, the various institutes of advanced research and the large majority of foundations have disregarded this music's need for means of survival. I do not wish to appear to obscure the obvious differences between musical composition and scholarly research, although it can be contended that these differences are no more fundamental than the differences among the various fields of study. I do question whether these differences, by their nature, justify the denial to music's development of assistance granted these other fields. Immediate "practical" applicability (which may be said to have its musical analogue in "immediate extensibility of a compositional technique") is certainly not a necessary condition for the support of scientific research. And if it be contended that such research is so supported because in the past it has yielded eventual applications, one can counter with, for example, the music of Anton Webern, which during the composer's lifetime was regarded (to the very limited extent that it was regarded at all) as the ultimate in hermetic, specialized, and idiosyncratic composition; today, some dozen years after the composer's death, his complete works have been recorded by a major record company, primarily- I suspect- as a result of the enormous influence this music has had on the postwar, nonpopular, musical world. I doubt that scientific research is any more secure against predictions of ultimate significance than is musical composition. Finally, if it be contended that research, even in its least "practical" phases, contributes to the sum of knowledge in the particular realm, what possibly can contribute more to our knowledge of music than a genuinely original composition?

Granting to music the position accorded other arts and sciences promises the sole substantial means of survival for the music I have been describing. Admittedly, if this music is not supported, the whistling repertory of the man in the street will be little affected, the concert-going activity of the conspicuous consumer of musical culture will be little disturbed. But music will cease to evolve, and, in that important sense, will cease to live.

Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 10, 2019, 11:07:03 PM
My viewpoint is not to deny that there is an emotional response listening to music. As was pointed out, the sense of awe or curiosity I described at listening to certain pieces of music is an emotional response, although it is not the "program" of the music. I would never deny it is very common for composers to write a piece with the idea of expressing an emotional state. In some cases the cultural cues are so unmistakable that almost every listener will recognize them. (A stereotypical funeral march will not be mistaken for a joyful jig.) My point is that the emotional state that inspires the composer and which he or she "expresses" in the creation of the music is not an intrinsic characteristic of the music. This conclusion is not motivated by philosophical notions, it is motivated by my experience that I often have a different emotional response to a piece than the composers expressed intent, or to other listeners, or to my own on a subsequent listening. And I find the most "moving" pieces are typically the ones which are ambiguous, and in which I can find different emotional responses.

To give an analogy, Messiaen had a form of synesthesia in which different sounds were perceived as having color. He used these color associations as the basis of his compositions, and invented scales which exploited this sound/color mapping. His scores contain indications of the color associated with a given passage. Well, most people don't have synesthesia and even people with synesthesia don't necessarily have the same color associations as Messiaen. But the music he created is unique and beautiful. The color associations guided his creation even if they were in his mind. The music of a certain "color" has some unique property, but not necessarily perceived as a color by a listener. He wrote a passage which to him was gold and blue, and someone might listen to it and perceive it as wistful, someone might perceive it as awestruck, someone else might perceive it as violet and someone else might perceive it as cacophony. I think of color in Messiaen's music analogous to "emotion" in music.

As I said, this is my experience of music.

We are perhaps coming at this from different ends. You take the examples where there is not a really obvious expression of a particular emotion that nearly everyone can figure out, and conclude that emotion is therefore not an intrinsic quality.

I take the examples where it’s really obvious that a particular emotion was aimed at, and conclude that it’s wrong to deny that music can have emotional content.

I would note that I never claimed that the emotion was always unambiguous or easy to put into words. Which is why I baulked at how long it would take to develop even halfway decent words on Barcarolle No.5...

I don’t find synaesthesia terribly helpful because it’s well documented that these colour combinations are completely unique to the individual synaesthete. Two people with synaesthesia might both associate colours with keys but will never agree as to what colour G Major is because it’s completely dependent on their brain wiring. The capacity for agreement simply doesn’t exist. Whereas we can demonstrate many cases where many listeners will agree on what a piece of music evokes.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 10, 2019, 11:18:40 PM
In his autobiographical Recollections, Sergei Rachmaninoff recorded a conversation he had had with Scriabin and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov about Scriabin’s association of colour and music. Rachmaninoff was surprised to find that Rimsky-Korsakov agreed with Scriabin on associations of musical keys with colors; himself skeptical, Rachmaninoff made the obvious objection that the two composers did not always agree on the colours involved. Both maintained that the key of D major was golden-brown; but Scriabin linked E-flat major with red-purple, while Rimsky-Korsakov favored blue. However, Rimsky-Korsakov protested that a passage in Rachmaninoff’s opera The Miserly Knight accorded with their claim: the scene in which the Old Baron opens treasure chests to reveal gold and jewels glittering in torchlight is written in D major. Scriabin told Rachmaninoff that “your intuition has unconsciously followed the laws whose very existence you have tried to deny.”

Source: https://forum.artofmemory.com/t/alexander-scriabin-and-artificial-synesthesia/26946 (https://forum.artofmemory.com/t/alexander-scriabin-and-artificial-synesthesia/26946)

Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ghost of Baron Scarpia on June 11, 2019, 08:24:06 AM
We are perhaps coming at this from different ends. You take the examples where there is not a really obvious expression of a particular emotion that nearly everyone can figure out, and conclude that emotion is therefore not an intrinsic quality.

I take the examples where it’s really obvious that a particular emotion was aimed at, and conclude that it’s wrong to deny that music can have emotional content.

I would note that I never claimed that the emotion was always unambiguous or easy to put into words. Which is why I baulked at how long it would take to develop even halfway decent words on Barcarolle No.5...

I don’t find synaesthesia terribly helpful because it’s well documented that these colour combinations are completely unique to the individual synaesthete. Two people with synaesthesia might both associate colours with keys but will never agree as to what colour G Major is because it’s completely dependent on their brain wiring. The capacity for agreement simply doesn’t exist. Whereas we can demonstrate many cases where many listeners will agree on what a piece of music evokes.

I don't regard this as a question that has a definitive provable answer, so I think the best we can do is lay out our reasons and try to expose the assumptions that they rest upon.

Yes, there are works which absolutely everyone can figure out are sad, or happy. No one can mistake the opening of the funeral march from Beethoven's Eroica symphony as happy music. No one could mistake Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever" for sad music. I would say that a funeral march is sad because it is slow, it contains a recognizable rhythmic motif in the accompaniment and it contains melodic elements imitating weeping or lamenting. I would call those external associations rather than intrinsic characteristics of the music. Stereotypical happy music has a brisk tempo and lively jumpy melodies suggestive of dancing. Again, I'd describe those as external associations. They are the stage lighting under which the music will unfold in time. It doesn't take a genius to play on those tropes and write stereotypical sad or happy music. But when it comes to the real substance of music I find it just as ambiguous as Messiaen's color associations. I am well aware, and actually emphasized in my post above, the fact that the colors are highly personal and map differently in different individuals with synesthesia (let alone people who do not experience synesthesia). Messiaen writes it as blue and we have to decide if it is happy, sad, angry, resolute, etc. That is my point! For music which is not dominated by happy or sad tropes, I find the emotional 'content' to be just as individual. Faure writes it as sad, I hear it as content, or angry, or ecstatic. As I mentioned, I experienced Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra finale as grim, and later learned that Bartok intended it as boundless joy. I find myself having strong emotional associations with music that are unrelated to the composer's expressed intent. That is why I love Faure so much. His mature music eschews stereotypical cues for 'happy' or 'sad', allowing a much richer field for the ambiguous expressiveness of the music. Another example is Mozart, Symphony No 39 finale. It has a principal theme which is 'happy' incarnate, but any composer of the era could have written such a theme. But that theme sets the stage for episodes of development which I find to have an utterly unfathomable beauty and which are beyond happy and sad, unlike anything else I have experienced. They are the reason I listen to the symphony.

So maybe the answer is yes, music can have passages which obviously evoke happy or sad, but I find those passages the least interesting part of the music and think of them as setting the stage for the actual 'music' which are emotionally ambiguous and individual at a profound level.

Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on June 11, 2019, 09:16:59 AM
I don't regard this as a question that has a definitive provable answer, so I think the best we can do is lay out our reasons and try to expose the assumptions that they rest upon.

Yes, there are works which absolutely everyone can figure out are sad, or happy. No one can mistake the opening of the funeral march from Beethoven's Eroica symphony as happy music. No one could mistake Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever" for sad music. I would say that a funeral march is sad because it is slow, it contains a recognizable rhythmic motif in the accompaniment and it contains melodic elements imitating weeping or lamenting. I would call those external associations rather than intrinsic characteristics of the music. Stereotypical happy music has a brisk tempo and lively jumpy melodies suggestive of dancing. Again, I'd describe those as external associations. They are the stage lighting under which the music will unfold in time. It doesn't take a genius to play on those tropes and write stereotypical sad or happy music. But when it comes to the real substance of music I find it just as ambiguous as Messiaen's color associations. I am well aware, and actually emphasized in my post above, the fact that the colors are highly personal and map differently in different individuals with synesthesia (let alone people who do not experience synesthesia). Messiaen writes it as blue and we have to decide if it is happy, sad, angry, resolute, etc. That is my point! For music which is not dominated by happy or sad tropes, I find the emotional 'content' to be just as individual. Faure writes it as sad, I hear it as content, or angry, or ecstatic. As I mentioned, I experienced Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra finale as grim, and later learned that Bartok intended it as boundless joy. I find myself having strong emotional associations with music that are unrelated to the composer's expressed intent. That is why I love Faure so much. His mature music eschews stereotypical cues for 'happy' or 'sad', allowing a much richer field for the ambiguous expressiveness of the music. Another example is Mozart, Symphony No 39 finale. It has a principal theme which is 'happy' incarnate, but any composer of the era could have written such a theme. But that theme sets the stage for episodes of development which I find to have an utterly unfathomable beauty and which are beyond happy and sad, unlike anything else I have experienced. They are the reason I listen to the symphony.

So maybe the answer is yes, music can have passages which obviously evoke happy or sad, but I find those passages the least interesting part of the music and think of them as setting the stage for the actual 'music' which are emotionally ambiguous and individual at a profound level.



I'm going to miss this chap.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: some guy on June 11, 2019, 09:31:32 AM
I don't hear the opening to the second movement of Beethoven's third symphony as "happy," but neither do I hear it as "sad."

It is terrifically exciting, I know that. Expecially the way that the "tune" gets interrupted by rhythmically extraneous eruptions that are neither extraneous nor do they interrupt. And as the movement progresses, circling around to the same point ("same") over and over again but giving something different each time, it just gets more exciting. It is a brilliant piece of music that I never tire of hearing. If it were simply "sad" (as in funerals are sad), it would doubtless pall after awhile. (Hey, that joke was just begging to be told.) But it doesn't. That's because it is a rich and various piece of music that transcends such trivial events as sadness or happiness.

In fact, despite what I said about excitement, what really strikes me about any art is how well it can make me forget about myself at all. Art takes over the whole space, as it were, leaving room only for itself. In the presence of such, I feel as the "we" in Rilke's Elegy confronting (confronted by) beauty, awed because it serenely disdains to destroy me. So you see how aggravating it can be to hear that the choice is a binary one between "evokes emotions (such as happiness or sorrow)" and "analysis." And no, I cannot reconcile the contradiction. I see it, too--that I "disappear" as an entity and that I simultaneously am aware, as an entity, that I'm being spared annihilation--but that's as far as it goes. Maybe that's the real power of art, to make one vanish while allowing one to continue to exist.

It's a neat trick, and it works, every time.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Mandryka on June 11, 2019, 09:32:24 AM


No one can mistake the opening of the funeral march from Beethoven's Eroica symphony as happy music.

When I read this I thought of Herreweghe's second Matthew Passion, the one with Bostridge, which makes the opening chorale really cheerful, I think he knew what he was doing and did it for theological reasons.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: San Antone on June 11, 2019, 10:04:13 AM
I'm going to miss this chap.

I wonder what caused Scarpia to delete his account? Yeah, I will miss him, too.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Mandryka on June 11, 2019, 11:13:57 AM
Oh, I hadn’t noticed that. I hope he’s well.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ken B on June 11, 2019, 11:17:03 AM
I wonder what caused Scarpia to delete his account? Yeah, I will miss him, too.

He was Scarpia, then Baron Scarpia, then the Ghost thereof, so he might return someday. The Shadow Of The Ghost perhaps.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 11, 2019, 02:17:48 PM
Well there were some very interesting points for discussion in his last post, but if he’s gone then I won’t bother responding in detail.

I will just point out that there isn’t anything intrinsic about the sounds your mind is associating with the collection of 26 symbols I am primarily using to write this message, and leave it at that.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: aukhawk on June 24, 2019, 04:50:28 AM
Bzzzt. Curiosity is an emotion. So is Zen calmness. Can you perceive much less describe anything “atmospheric” without reference to emotion?

I don't treat music as a mind-altering drug, except insofar as I listen to music in order to derive pleasure from it.  Listening to music that is evidently sad - such as a Beethoven or Chopin funeral march, or the closing of Tchaikovsky's Pathetique Symphony - gives me pleasure (and I assume this is true of most music lovers).  The music does not therefore 'convey' an emotion.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on June 24, 2019, 06:50:36 AM
This is a lovely quote:

""I compose music because I must give utterance to my feelings, just as I talk because I must give utterance to my thoughts." --- Sergei Rachmaninoff"

But I cannot be alone in understanding that this does not "prove" that the music expresses those feelings.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 24, 2019, 07:03:06 AM
This is a lovely quote:

""I compose music because I must give utterance to my feelings, just as I talk because I must give utterance to my thoughts." --- Sergei Rachmaninoff"

But I cannot be alone in understanding that this does not "prove" that the music expresses those feelings.

Good God, my dear friend!  For me it's crystal clear that Rachmaninoff means exactly that his music is precisely an expression of his feeelings. I fail to see how his words can be interpreted in any other way., especially when taking into account the second part of the sentence, and the connector "just as". Do you imply that his talk was not an expression of his thoughts?
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: some guy on June 24, 2019, 09:44:20 AM
Good God, my dear friend!  For me it's crystal clear that Rachmaninoff means exactly that his music is precisely an expression of his feeelings. I fail to see how his words can be interpreted in any other way., especially when taking into account the second part of the sentence, and the connector "just as". Do you imply that his talk was not an expression of his thoughts?
The bolded part is not what's going on here, however. No one's questioning what Rachmaninoff is saying here. It's just that Rachmaninoff's assertion does not establish anything except that he felt that this was what he was doing.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: ritter on June 24, 2019, 10:53:56 AM
It is really beyond my comprehension why you can't enjoy your favorite music in your favorite manner unless you trash other people's music and their favorite manner of listening to it.
Really, Florestan, cher ami, you write that just a couple of lines after dismissing the music that many of us like (I’m speaking for myself here) as
Quote
..an intellectual sound game and at worst an intellectual sound masturbation --- both cases indistinct, if you ask me...
I would be tempted to retort that the music of e.g. Rachmaninov is simply emotional-sentimental garbage, with scant if any artistic interest or merit (donde las dan, las toman  ;))...but no, I’m perfectly fine with you listening to the music you enjoy, and let me listen to my Wagner, my Debussy and my Boulez  :).

You’ve got mail BTW (your inbox here was full).

Un abrazo,
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 24, 2019, 11:08:14 AM
Really, Florestan, cher ami, you write that just a couple of lines after dismissing the music that many of us like (I’m speaking for myself here)

Really, Rafael, mi querido amigo --- I couldn't care less about what music you enjoy, or how you enjoy listening to it --- but once again: how many threads have I started about that? How many threads have I started about "emotions/feelings in music"? Have I ever expressed my thoughts on the matter without being provoked?

Quote
asI would be tempted to retort that the music of e.g. Rachmaninov is simply emotional-sentimental garbage, with scant if any artistic interest or merit

Once again, my friend, once again: have I ever started a thread praising Rachmaninoff?

Quote
I’m perfectly fine with you listening to the music you enjoy, and let me listen to my Wagner, my Debussy and my Boulez  :).

Can you show one single instance of me not allowing you to do just that?
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: ritter on June 24, 2019, 11:22:34 AM
Fair enough (even if, as we’ve discussed before, you are probably the most vocal member here on GMG for the “emotion in music” way of thinking, often disparaging other approaches and tastes in the process —which of course you’re perfectly entitled to do  :).

Un abrazo,
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 24, 2019, 11:30:41 AM
you are probably the most vocal member here on GMG for the “emotion in music” way of thinking,

Ni cet excès d'honneur, ni cette indignité. --- as an avowed afrancesado you should be able to understand what i mean.  :laugh:

Quote
often disparaging other approaches and tastes in the process —which of course you’re perfectly entitled to do  :).

Si un hombre nunca se contradice es porque nunca dice nada.  ;)
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 24, 2019, 01:41:56 PM
I don't treat music as a mind-altering drug, except insofar as I listen to music in order to derive pleasure from it.  Listening to music that is evidently sad - such as a Beethoven or Chopin funeral march, or the closing of Tchaikovsky's Pathetique Symphony - gives me pleasure (and I assume this is true of most music lovers).  The music does not therefore 'convey' an emotion.

Do you ever enjoy watching sad movies? Dramas? Thrillers?

Unless the only film and television you derive pleasure from is comedy that makes you laugh, this is a very peculiar form of reasoning you’re employing.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: some guy on June 24, 2019, 03:06:30 PM
you feel and think nothing at all when listening to music
Nope.

That is not nor has it ever been my point about this topic. What's more, it's grotesquely untrue, as I more than suspect you already know.

And if you've gotten this wrong, then there are several other things you've gotten wrong as well, for example:

there are many composers whose music express nothing at all, being at best an intellectual sound game and at worst an intellectual sound masturbation
, which is a fair example of you doing in actual fact what you accuse me, falsely, of doing.

As for leaving people alone, yes, you should probably do that.

Please.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Ken B on June 24, 2019, 03:19:30 PM
Do you ever enjoy watching sad movies? Dramas? Thrillers?

Unless the only film and television you derive pleasure from is comedy that makes you laugh, this is a very peculiar form of reasoning you’re employing.

Indeed.itseems to turn on the word conveying. I guess you could say a slap across the face doesn’t convey meaning or incentive either, because it wasn’t transported from place to place.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Florestan on June 24, 2019, 10:54:12 PM
As for leaving people alone, yes, you should probably do that.

Please.

I'll certainly leave this effing thread alone.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: aukhawk on June 26, 2019, 01:21:47 AM
Do you ever enjoy watching sad movies? Dramas? Thrillers?
Unless the only film and television you derive pleasure from is comedy that makes you laugh, this is a very peculiar form of reasoning you’re employing.

Of course (to sad movies etc).  I "enjoy" them.  I don't wallow in them.  And I generally don't enjoy so much, facile rom-coms, facile music written in a major key, etc. 
I reject any idea that my music-listening preferences are some form of masochism - which would be the case if I were allowing sad music to alter my mood.
Title: Re: Notes in music?
Post by: Madiel on June 26, 2019, 02:50:34 AM
Of course (to sad movies etc).  I "enjoy" them.  I don't wallow in them.  And I generally don't enjoy so much, facile rom-coms, facile music written in a major key, etc. 
I reject any idea that my music-listening preferences are some form of masochism - which would be the case if I were allowing sad music to alter my mood.

Exactly. The whole point is the exact opposite. If you know the music is sad then it is conveying a mood. I suggest you look up a dictionary and understand what "convey" actually means, because it is certainly not confined to the meaning you are currently giving it, and I find it quite bizarre that you think anyone else was giving the word that meaning.

Because "convey" means "transport" or "carry" (and arguably in this context "communicate"). It doesn't carry your odd assumptions about what happens after arrival. Something is conveyed whether or not you are... injected... with it at the end of the trip!

What you do with the sad mood after it arrives at your ears is entirely your own affair. The conveyance is at an end. In much the same way that a parcel gets delivered to your door, not whatever room of your house you intend to put it after receipt. And if you to decide to just leave it there, where the courier put it, then the courier has still conveyed it.